Version classiqueVersion mobile

Uncertainty in Livy and Velleius

 | 
Annika Domainko

4. Livy – Putting Uncertainty on Stage

Texte intégral

4.1 A Survey of Recent Scholarship

  • 1 Chaplin-Kraus (2009) 1. See also e.g. Miles (1995) 1-7.
  • 2 See e.g. Klingner (1967) 51: ‘Livius ist kein Geschichtsdenker, und man soll ihn nicht mit Gewalt d (...)
  • 3 On the title, see the brief analysis in Horsfall (1981) 105-6.

1In 2009, Jane Chaplin and Christina Kraus opened their Oxford Readings in Classical Studies on Titus Livius with a quotation of the laconic, but long too common formula, ‘even Livy… ’.1 Using this well-known bon mot, they distanced their collection from a certain trend in scholarship that, judging Livy’s work by modern positivist standards, never grew tired of pointing out his failure as a historian and indeed often as a writer.2 If we tried to understand the Ab urbe condita3 as a window onto a past reality, so it went, it was almost impossible not to see the stains. Indeed, both Livy and Velleius are among those Roman historians who have only in recent decades sparked an increasing interest in scholarship to be taken seriously as historiographical narrative following genre-specific laws and audience expectations. This chapter builds upon those recent trends in Livian scholarship and sets out to read the narrative composition of the Ab urbe condita as an enactment of uncertainty. Going against the grain, I will analyze Livy against the backdrop of Velleius Paterculus and make use of the observations made in the previous chapter in order to develop the questions directed at Livy’s text.

  • 4 Nissen (1863). On Livy’s use of his sources, see still Klotz (1927) in RE XIII, 841-6 (= Klotz (196 (...)

2For a long time, traditional Quellenforschung had dominated Livian research. The roots of this branch of scholarship reach back as far as the nineteenth century, with a milestone set down in Heinrich Nissen’s Kritische Untersuchungen über die Quellen der 4. und 5. Dekade des Livius from 1863.4 Until well into the second half of the twentieth century, questions along these lines remained the focus of interest and have delivered many insights into Livy’s relationship to earlier historians, his use of his source material, his historical technique as well as the dynamics involved in the ancient idea of imitatio and literary competition.

  • 5 In his account of the siege of Ambracia (38.7.10) in 189 BCE, Livy appears to confuse the Greek thu (...)
  • 6 On Livy’s relation with and position to Augustus, see e.g. Deininger’s (1985) 265-72 overview artic (...)

3The general assessment has tended to turn out rather negatively, emphasizing Livy’s negligent use of his sources, including fatal omissions, questionable additions, mistranslations from Greek,5 and outright lapses. In the same tradition, scholars have criticized Livy’s highly rhetorical style and, in relation to that, his tendency to transform his – allegedly more objective – source material into pro-Roman or pro-Augustan propaganda.6

  • 7 See e.g. Lushkov’s (2013) article on citation and the dynamics of tradition in which she develops a (...)

4More recent studies, however, have shown that even in the light of source criticism, our picture of Livy’s historiography has been simplistic, not least by pointing out the rich intertextual dynamics between Livy and his predecessors and thus by approaching the question of his sources from a literary rather than a positivist perspective.7

  • 8 Witte (1910). Miles (1995) 2 calls this strand also the ‘rhetorical-thematic school of interpretati (...)
  • 9 In the context of ‘episodic narrative structures’ see also Williams (1978), who argued that imperia (...)
  • 10 See e.g. Walsh (1961) 274-5 and, summarizing this discussion in scholarship, 287.
  • 11 For a similar thought, see Chaplin-Kraus (2009) 3. See as well Pausch (2011) 3-8.

5The strand in Livian scholarship complementary to Quellenforschung is the analysis of the so-called Einzelerzählungen, which is going back to Kurt Witte’s Über die Form der Darstellung in Livius’ Geschichtswerk.8 In the wake of these studies, Livy has been thought to polish individual episodes and paragraphs rather than compose his history as a coherent whole.9 The coexistence of these two major trends resulted in a somewhat paradoxical picture of Livy being at the same time an uncreative, secondary writer following in the footsteps of his predecessors without a sign of original inspiration on the one hand, and a rhetorical and literary genius10 on the other.11

  • 12 See Wiseman (1979); Woodman (1988).
  • 13 See Chaplin-Kraus (2009) 4.

6The paradigm shift in Livian scholarship in the late seventies and eighties was a result of methodological developments both within and without of classical studies, as already sketched in the Introduction. Ranke’s dictum of ‘wie es eigentlich gewesen’ had cast long shadows and resulted in a deeply positivist understanding of what a ‘proper’ historian should aim for. Against this mantra, approaches to ancient historiography that took seriously their rhetorical and literary composition now raised awareness of the crucial differences between ancient and modern understandings of ‘truth’, ‘reality’, and ‘fiction’.12 On the other hand, the linguistic turn did not spare historiography either, and had a major influence on the way ancient historical writing was read and interpreted, building upon the premise that our perception of the world was significantly mediated through language which, accordingly, was no longer seen as a ‘transparent medium through which we perceive reality’ but as constitutive of reality itself.13

  • 14 See e.g. Feldherr (1998) ix: ‘The information he gives us is so valuable, and so tantalizing, that (...)
  • 15 Probably the best example for a combination of all these aspects is Oakley, Comm. For an analysis o (...)

7Current scholarship on Livy builds upon these divergent trends just described. On the one hand, there is an unbroken interest in Livy as a historian and as a source from which to reconstruct Roman history – an approach that is still understandably tempting, considering that our knowledge of Republican history owes more to Livy than to any other ancient author.14 Besides textual criticism and Realienkunde, Livy’s position within the tradition of historiography and the historical conditions of the production and reception of his work still lie at the heart of Livian scholarship, which might not seem surprising given the vast scope of the Ab urbe condita.15

  • 16 Pausch (2011).
  • 17 Levene (2010a).

8On the other hand, more and more attention is being paid to the narrative through which Roman history is presented to us, and narratology and the close analysis of narrative composition, Livy’s language and the place of intertextual relations have produced many new insights. In this context, Dennis Pausch has recently examined Livy’s techniques of reader engagement. By applying narratological categories such as focalization and combining them with the theoretical backbone of reader-response criticism, Pausch digs out the arcs of suspense underlying Livy’s work and thus shows how Livy constantly and actively involves his readers in the search for historical truth.16 Besides Pausch, there is David Levene’s 2010 book on the narrative composition of the Hannibalic War, in which he puts into perspective and ties together the many observations and analyses of individual episodes within the major narrative of the Second Punic War.17

  • 18 See e.g. Levene’s edited volume Clio and the Poets (2002).
  • 19 Feldherr (1998).
  • 20 Chaplin (2000); esp. Jaeger (1997), (1999) 169-95, but also (2006) 389-414.
  • 21 Roller (2009b). This approach is likely to prove fruitful, since Livy has usually been read as an u (...)
  • 22 For the latter, see esp. Arieti (1997) 209-29 who enquires into the connections between Livy’s repr (...)

9Furthermore, studies on intertextual dynamics within the genre of historiography and beyond have drawn our attention to the interactions and relations between Livy and Augustan poetry.18 In this context, the socio-political dynamics of the early Principate have become more and more crucial for many readings that understand the Ab urbe condita as mutually interacting with late Republican and early Augustan Rome and as deeply entwined in its cultural and socio-political dynamics. A study representative of this trend is Andrew Feldherr’s examination of Spectacle and Society, where vision and authority are not only analyzed as they are depicted in the narrative, but also as they are crucial for the political culture and socio-cultural dynamics in contemporary society. Feldherr demonstrates how both aspects influence each other.19 In a similar way, Jane Chaplin has dealt with exemplarity in the Ab urbe condita while Mary Jaeger has analyzed Livy’s narrativization of space.20 Another example for this take on Livy is Matthew Roller’s paper on innovation and aristocratic competition where close readings are tied to observations about the political culture in Augustan Rome.21 In this wider context, gender studies have also proved influential as an attempt to illuminate the relations between narrative gender constructions in Livy and conceptions of (imperial and political) power.22

10This categorization of Livian scholarship is by no means intended to be comprehensive, and there is no clear cut distinction between the individual branches I have tried to identify. Nevertheless, this brief doxography of scholarship can serve as a tool to organize current interests in Livy and historiography and to allow me to situate my own approach within this rich field of research.

About this Chapter

11As I have demonstrated in the previous chapter on Velleius, in the constant interplay of closure and openness, the balance of the History shifts in favour of closure. Starting from these observations and analyses, I wish to examine how Livy’s narrative configures uncertainty and how it negotiates closure and openness. I would like to start from the hypothesis that, in contrast to Velleius, Livy’s narrative can be understood as an enactment of uncertainty, one which highlights the tension between experience and expectation on both the level of the characters and the level of the reader, and which also cultivates the tension between different possible interpretations.

12In detail, this chapter will focus on an exemplary reading of the Caudium episode in book 9 and is divided in two major sections. In the first section (4.2), I wish to show how the paradigmatic crisis narrative about the Caudine disaster and peace stages the ever-growing tension between the characters’ expectations and experiences and how accordingly temporal uncertainty is put on display. By focussing on Herennius’ ‘oracle’, it is possible to draw attention to the close intertwinement of temporal and hermeneutic uncertainty and show how the narratological concept of ‘side-shadowing’ can be understood as an enactment of this intertwinement. Furthermore, an analysis of the polyphonic structure of the scene will shed light on the role of ambiguity in Livy’s narrative.

  • 23 Please note that a thorough comparison of Livy and Velleius will also be given in Chapter 5. There (...)

13Despite all emphasis on openness and the enactment of uncertainty, as I wish to demonstrate in the second section (4.3), the Caudium episode will also reveal the intriguing dynamics between closure and openness by complementing the dramatic enactment of uncertainty with a subtle re-entry of elements of closure in the end. Throughout the chapter, comparisons with Velleius’ History will help to throw my interpretation into perspective. The chapter will end with a brief summary and preliminary conclusion (4.4).23

4.2 Narratives of Uncertainty in the Caudine Forks

14Previously in this book I have argued that uncertainty in its temporal and hermeneutic dimension was a fundamental part of the human ‘Erfahrungswelt’ as such, but that it surfaces with particular impetus in times of external crisis that links the tension between experience and expectation and interpretive possibilities to specific, discrete events and developments in time. In Velleius, mostly due to the compact nature of his historiographical project, I have analyzed a set of compositional techniques and narrative peculiarities on display over the whole of his History which have allowed me to throw into relief his narrative configuration of this uncertainty.

  • 24 One possible point of direct comparison to Velleius would also have been Livy’s configuration of fo (...)
  • 25 Oakley, Comm. ad loc.; see also Chaplin (2000) 32.

15An analogous approach to Livy, taking into account the whole of his remaining 32 books in the same way as has been done for Velleius, is for obvious reasons not possible.24 In the context of narrative and uncertainty and in the light of what I have just re-emphasized, it is therefore conceptually fruitful to focus on a close examination of an exemplary scene in Livy that is, already at the level of content, concerned with a moment of crisis and uncertainty. The Caudium episode, which tells the story of the Romans’ worst defeat in the Samnite Wars and one of their most painful humiliations in history, is an apt starting point for this undertaking. At first sight, the narrative of the Caudine peace may appear as a rather conventional example, a self-contained and in Stephen Oakley’s words a ‘masterly constructed episode’ with strong moralizing undertones.25 It is against the backdrop of Velleius’ peculiar narrative composition that it is possible to extract narrative characteristics which help to shed light on the importance of openness, as opposed to closure, and ambiguity, as opposed to authority and monophony, in Livy’s Ab urbe condita.

  • 26 On Caudium from a mostly historical and archaeological perspective, see Horsfall (1982) 45-52 who f (...)
  • 27 Cf. 9.1.1-11. On this passage, see also Pausch (2011) 180; Oakley, Comm. 39-48.

16The Samnite city of Caudium, the modern Montesarchio, situated on the Via Appia between Benevento and Capua was the scene of one of the Romans’ most humiliating defeats.26 Although there was no actual battle, no fighting, and almost no casualties involved in the conflict at the Caudine forks in 321 BCE during the Second Samnite War, the events were to become proverbial for the Romans – a hora fatalis ignominiae, in Livy’s terms. The events have their origin in the Romans’ rejection of the Samnites’ surrender that is recorded by Livy at the end of book 8. The Caudium episode proper thus starts with a passionate speech given by Gavius Pontius,27 the commander of the Samnites, calling upon his soldiers to take up war against the Romans once more and convincing them of the justness of their cause in the eyes of the gods.

  • 28 Cf. 9.2.3: ubi inciderint in praedatores, ut idem omnibus sermo constet legiones Samnitium in Apuli (...)
  • 29 For Livy’s description of the place, cf. 9.2.6.
  • 30 Cf. 9.5.11-6.4; esp. 9.6.3: per hostium oculos. Oakley, Comm. 6-7 notes that of Livy’s annalistic s (...)

17By deceiving the Romans into thinking that the Samnite levies were gathering in Apulia and about to besiege the city of Luceria,28 they manage to trap the Romans in the ravine of the Caudine forks.29 The Romans have no choice but to surrender without conditions and without an actual fight that could have prevented their complete and total loss of face. Instead, they are forced to undergo the humiliating procedure of passing beneath the yoke and have to make their way home disarmed, in their tunics, and under the watchful eyes of their enemies.30

18The fact that uncertainty looms large in this episode is already visible from this broad-brush summary of its greater lines. Both temporal and hermeneutic uncertainty is put on display. In contrast with Velleius, Livy capitalizes on the gap between expectation and experience, both on the intradiegetic level, i.e. with regard to the ‘Erfahrungswelt’ of the characters, and on the level of the reader and her reception.

19On an intradiegetic level, expectations towards the future and the outcome of the dilemma at Caudium are presented in the narrative as being fragile or even entirely thwarted by new experiences. Experiences from the past, in turn, appear to prove useless in finding orientation during a time of acute crisis. While there was a strong compositional moment of temporal closure in Velleius, the Caudium episode focusses on the ‘Erfahrungswelt’ of the Romans at the time and makes little use of the narrator’s retrospective knowledge in order to relieve the characters of the story from the constraints of contingency.

20On the other hand, Livy’s narrative composition also highlights elements of hermeneutic uncertainty and openness. While Velleius’ narrative has been shown to close off any rivalling voices and to conceptualize history as a closed space with little room for interpretation, the Caudium episode is characterized by an eminent polyphony which is, again, at work both on the level of the characters and that of the reader’s reception. Livy’s polyphony at Caudium opens up the scene for disagreement, rivalling interpretations, and loose ends which – not unlike in the narrative of Hannibal’s single combats analyzed in the introduction – are negotiated within the story-world of the characters and forwarded to the reader for participating hermeneutic engagement.

4.2.1 Uncertainty and the Locus Amoenus

  • 31 Cf. 9.2.1-4.

21After Pontius has given his passionate speech encouraging the Samnites to take up war against the Romans, we learn that the Samnites have started to circulate rumours in order to lure their enemy to the city of Luceria.31 It is this personified rumour reaching the Romans – iam is rumor […] venerat ad Romanos – who does not only govern the passage as the grammatical subject, but who also sets things in motion on the level of the content. What is going to be known as the Caudine dishonour is shown to be kicked off by the agency of the Samnite’s false narrative trail.

22The narrative now accordingly switches from its aerial perspective, overlooking both the Samnite and the Roman camps, to an internal perspective limited to the Romans (9.2.5):

Haud erat dubium quin Lucerinis opem Romanus ferret, bonis ac fidelibus sociis, simul ne Apulia omnis ad praesentem terrorem deficeret: ea modo, qua irent, consultatio fuit. There was no doubt that the Romans would help the Lucerini, their good and faithful allies, also in order to prevent at the same time that the whole of Apulia would defect in the face of imminent danger: the only subject of debate was which route they should take.

  • 32 The use of the verb ferre emphasizes the Romano-centric focalization as it implies a direction – to (...)

23After we have heard about the Samnites’ plans, the rumour they have initiated proves successful and equally infects the Roman troops and the narrative: the decision is made, and merely the circumstances and the route have to be determined. The narrative is now focalized through the eyes of the Romans and briefly limits our view as readers to their perspective,32 and by so stressing their indecisiveness, it prepares the stage for the fatal choice they are about to make and its far-reaching consequences.

  • 33 See also Morello (2003) 296-306 for the tradition behind this metaphor in Livy. On the metaphor of (...)

24The intriguing phrase qua irent encompasses in a nutshell the metaphor of the crossroads – a metaphor that transfers a description of bodily movement in space onto the act of decision making.33 To speak more precisely, the abstract experience of indecisiveness and the status quo of the Roman troops in which several potential futures still coexist are condensed into one concrete, plastic image where the act of disambiguation is nothing more than taking this or that route at a crossroads. The two options available to the Romans, each bound to one potential future, are then spelled out in detail (9.2.6-8):

  • 34 Oakley, Comm. ad loc. draws attention to the second person formulation (venias) in this passage, cl (...)

Duae ad Luceriam ferebant uiae, altera praeter oram superi maris, patens apertaque sed quanto tutior tanto fere longior, altera per Furculas Caudinas, breuior; sed ita natus locus est: saltus duo alti angusti siluosique sunt montibus circa perpetuis inter se iuncti. Iacet inter eos satis patens clausus in medio campus herbidus aquosusque, per quem medium iter est; sed antequam uenias34 ad eum, intrandae primae angustiae sunt et aut eadem qua te insinuaueris retro uia repetenda aut, si ire porro pergas, per alium saltum artiorem impeditioremque euadendum.
There were two roads to Luceria; one went along the coast of the upper sea, and though open and unobstructed, it was long almost in proportion to its safety; the other led through the Caudine forks, and was shorter. But this is the nature of the place: two deep ravines, narrow and covered in trees, are connected by an unbroken range of mountains on either hand; shut in between them lies a quite extensive plain, grassy and well-watered, with the road running through the middle of it; but before you come to it, you must enter the first bottleneck, and afterwards either retrace the steps by which you made your way into the place, or if you want to keep going, leave through the other bottleneck which is even narrower and more difficult.

  • 35 Morello (2003) 301-5.

25Ruth Morello has pointed out the ringing allusion of the scene to the famous episode of Hercules at the crossroads, who has to choose between the path of vice and the path of virtue, between the easy and the difficult route.35 The constellation before Caudium is composed in an analogous way, opening up a possible choice between a long way to Luceria running along shore and a shortcut that would lead the Romans through the Caudine forks. The second possibility is flashed out before our eyes in detail, thus cautiously foreshadowing that this path is the one the Romans will be inclined to take.

  • 36 Morello (2003) 291-6. For the locus amoenus as a literary topos, see still Curtius (1948) 191-209 o (...)

26The first route is said to be long, but apparently safe, while the second route appears to be much shorter, but at the same time more difficult. Strikingly, the risks and dangers of the second path are in Livy’s narrative blurred and concealed by a colourful and detailed depiction that displays remarkable allusions to the classical topos of the locus amoenus, as Morello has shown as well.36

27The passage sketches the picture of an idyllic campus, safely girded by a range of mountains, rich green and well-watered pastures with a path running through the middle of the plains. It is easy to observe from above as only two narrow ravines open towards the grassy campus on either side. The forks are depicted as a fertile, harmonious place, offering water and shelter – all elements that canonically belong to a locus amoenus.

28This observation may at first come as a surprise given that this chapter set out to unravel the role of uncertainty in Livy’s narrative. The locus amoenus, by contrast, engenders an atmosphere of security and concord that appears to be diametrically opposed to any notion of uncertainty. Carrying the intertextual trace of a long literary tradition going back to Homer and Hesiod, the topos of the ideal landscape creates the bucolic Stimmung of a Theokritean or Vergilian idyll, pinning the realm of nature against the troubles of cities and wars and setting the scene for song and poetic competition rather than war and armed conflict. The scenery briefly extracts the Romans as well as the reader from the upheaval of the Samnite Wars, installing calmness and the promise of safety and peace. The Romans are lulled into a sense of security that will eventually turn out to be false and elusive.

  • 37 This is of course not to reproduce or even imply the idea of a ‘secondary’ text being dependent on (...)

29But what is more, the depiction of the Caudine forks as a locus amoenus makes the passage a trenchant example to disentangle the way in which a tension between expectation and experience works on the level of both the characters and the reader’s reception. There are two aspects in particular that I wish to draw closer attention to. First, expectations are built up on both levels, albeit in very different ways. The expectations of the historical agents are shown to be guided by their knowledge of the landscape of Samnium and Italy. The expectations of Livy’s readers, on the other hand, have an additional layer since they are not only triggered by the story told, but also by the literary form in which this story is presented to them. To put this point differently, their expectations towards ‘what happens next’ are not guided by an actual landscape, but by a literary topos used to describe a landscape, i.e. not by the actual thing, but by a narrative representation that in itself carries semantic information and generates meaning.37 The locus amoenus scene-type has the capacity to evoke in a reader an expectation as to which kinds of events, values or atmospheres will be put on stage. It is the literary composition itself that opens up the horizon of expectations towards a positive, harmonious outcome of the story.

30As a result, the reader has the chance not only to ‘feel’ and ‘experience’ with the Romans in the story-world a sense of calm, but also to distance himself from the occurrences in the story-world – at least if he is able to see the seams on the surface of the narrative and reflect upon the implications that the use of a literary topos may have in this context. In fact, the reader’s expectation has thus an aesthetic dimension that is not only directed at the internal logic of the story-world, but also at the artistic composition in which this story-world presents itself to him. Unlike for the Romans ‘in the story’, the Caudine forks the reader engages with are pre-interpreted through literary convention and pre-evaluated as an (alleged) safe space for bucolic leisure by means of a poetic ‘Formverfahren’. Livy’s narrative composition of this passage has the potential to confront the reader not only with the characters’ ambiguous, undecided situation, but to also make him ponder on how exactly Livy’s narrative art is going to unravel the tension build up through the locus amoenus-reference.

31If we read this in the light of what happens next – the Romans’ realization that they made the wrong decision and are being trapped in the ravine – we can conclude that the idyll-scenery puts on display uncertainty on the level of the characters and the level of reception. After all, it is not only the historical agents’ future that is shown to be uncertain in the narrative; the aesthetic expectation built up through the topos of the ideal landscape is also thwarted when we get armed conflict instead of bucolic song.

32Hence, the scene also drives home the point that hermeneutic concepts to structure the world and charge it with meaning are just as fragile and uncertain as the characters’ future. The topos of the locus amoenus is revealed as having no inherent meaning and as being dependent on narrative contextualization; it thus displays what we have labelled hermeneutic uncertainty. For the reader, it is also this hermeneutic uncertainty that triggers an expectation which is then thwarted by a new experience. In other words, it is hermeneutic uncertainty that enhances temporal uncertainty – an observation which shows once more how closely the two are in fact entwined and how fruitful their distinction is to unravel the dynamics at stake.

  • 38 On a similar thought, see Pausch’s (2011) 195 concept of ‘anomalous suspense’; see also above, 16 n (...)
  • 39 The question of narrative tension and of what exactly makes us read and finish a narrative has been (...)

33Secondly, the expectation built up by the reference to the ideal landscape is at second glance not as straight-forward as just described, since there is another dimension to it that throws further into relief the dynamics between the characters’ and reader’s levels of uncertainty. I have said above that both the Romans and the readers are ‘extracted’ from the atmosphere of the wars and placed within the pretence of safety and disambiguation. This thought is certainly in need of further qualification. Since the Caudine peace and dishonour is a well-known painful episode in Roman history, Livy’s readers most certainly did know about the consequences of the Romans’ decision at this point of the story. Accordingly, the alleged safe space of the locus amoenus is for a well-informed reader already riddled with his retrospective knowledge about the outcome of the episode. The expectation of the reader is triggered by anomalous suspense38 – a narrative tension bound to the question of how exactly Livy’s version of this well-known episode will be coming to an end, and perhaps also the kind of tension that is based on the unrealistic hope that things might develop differently this time.39

34In other words, for the reader the temporal uncertainty is not so much directed towards the actual outcome of the events described which he most likely knows, but rather the narrative way in which Livy’s composition wraps up the material and carves its way through the jungle of possible stories to tell about the incident. Due to the genre of historiography and the historical ‘Vorwissen’ of the reader, reading expectation here is always a suspense directed at the question of which hermeneutic grid the narrator is going to use in order to select, order, weigh, and evaluate the material available to him and at how he is going to tell the story. Again, the reader’s temporal uncertainty floating between his expectations and experiences is inextricably linked to a hermeneutic uncertainty which is, in this case, bound to the very nature of storytelling as a hermeneutic act.

35Moreover, the retrospective historical knowledge that figures into the reception of this passage is complemented by a number of subtle clues scattered all over the description of the second, the ‘idyllic’ route to Luceria. These clues hint at the fact that the Romans are about to walk right into a trap, and they subtly destabilize the sense of closure and security put forward by the bucolic idyll. In detail, Livy’s narrative here hints at the narrowness of the place (saltus duo alti angusti; intrandae primae angustiae sunt), its limited accessibility (aut eadem qua te insinuaueris retro uia repentenda aut, si ire porro pergas, per alium saltum artiorem impeditioremque, euadendum) and contains the somewhat suspicious statement that the second route is quanto tutior tanto fere longior. The eye-catching phrasing iacet inter eos satis patens clausus in medio campus, that immediately juxtaposes patens and clausus also belongs in this category. The Caudine forks are ‘open’ and ‘closed’ at the same time depending on one’s point of view, a subtle ambiguity that points out the general uncertainty of the Roman troops’ status quo, being on a knife-edge.

36Hence, if we draw together these two observations, it is possible to add a third aspect to this interpretation. Livy’s narrative juxtaposes two different ways of knowing, understanding or structuring Roman history that we can label ‘aesthetic’ and ‘historical’. The literary topos of the locus amoenus that installs an, albeit brief, sense of closure in the narrative is pitched against the historical knowledge of the informed reader who knows in hindsight that things are going to end badly for the Romans. For the reader, there is a tension between his historical knowledge about a major event in Roman history and Livy’s narrative version of it; and at the same time, there is a tension between an aesthetic grid and a historical grid through which to assess history, each following a specific set of rules and hermeneutic tools. The uncertainty which Livy’s narrative sparks on the level of the reader is thus also triggered by a tension between two interpretational poles – a dimension which is not part of the ‘Erfahrungswelt’ of the characters in the story-world.

37Without this distinction of hermeneutic and temporal levels of uncertainty, I could have argued that the readers’ knowledge trumps the characters’ knowledge in this situation and that, accordingly, the characters’ uncertainty is highlighted while the act of reading proves to be a way to grapple with this uncertainty by re-experiencing it without the constraints of the historical agents and in the safe knowledge of how things will wrap up. But things are in fact more complex and the dynamics between readers’ potential receptions and the level of the characters is much more multifaceted: narrative presents itself qua narrative and qua literary technique as creating uncertainty and playfully engaging with it at the same time.

38However, the uncertainty on the level of the reader as described above is most certainly different from the uncertainty of the characters as described in the narrative. It is an aesthetic uncertainty that works much more on an intellectual, reflexive level than on a pre-lingual, existential one. It is a form of uncertainty that is directed to form rather than content, one that is aware of the ink that created the narrative. This form of uncertainty requires (and produces) distance between the reader and the story-world and ‘happens’ on the surface of the plot where the seams that hold together the narrative are still visible.

39At the same time, narrative uncertainty as I have analyzed it displays the same structural set-up as any existential form of uncertainty – a tension between expectation and experience and between different hermeneutic grids to structure the world and charge it with meaning. Narrative thus presents itself as a medium of uncertainty and a way to reflect upon existential uncertainty in an aesthetic mode. It certainly bears the capacity to let us grapple with uncertainty, but by flaunting contingency and ambiguity qua narrative means, it does not offer any closure. Narrative here is about enacting uncertainty, not about eliminating it.

4.2.2 Expectation and Experience

40I have so far analyzed the divergent ways in which the expectations of the reader and the characters are built up in and through the text. In the next steps of the Caudine story as narrated by Livy, these expectations are put to test by new experiences. In this subchapter, I would like to focus on these quickly cut-in sequences of expectations built up and experiences shattering these expectations in order to show how emphatically Livy’s narrative draws attention to the temporal uncertainty of human life as exemplified in a crisis-torn situation.

41As we know, the Romans – trapped in the story-world and unable to see or decipher the clues scattered all over the surface of the plot crafted by Livy – decide to take the alleged short cut to Luceria, and in doing so, remain unaware of their mistake for still quite some time. Under the impression of safety, caused by their naïve expectations, they enter into the forks void of suspicion only to find it blocked and themselves trapped by their own illusion (9.2.9):

In eum campum uia alia per cauam rupem Romani demisso agmine cum ad alias angustias protinus pergerent, saeptas deiectu arborum saxorumque ingentium obiacente mole inuenere. Cum fraus hostilis apparuisset, praesidium etiam in summo saltu conspicitur.
When the Romans had with their troops climbed down to this plain on one way through the narrow ravine and then walked towards the other pass, they found it blocked by felled trees and huge boulders that were lying in their way. When the enemy’s stratagem had thus become apparent, they also discovered the body of troops on top of the ravine.

42Only now do they spot the enemy’s ambush. The expectations of the Romans are thwarted, and the seemingly obvious decision between the two routes at hand is retrospectively also revealed to them as highly ambiguous and uncertain. By describing the Romans’ options in detail beforehand and flashing out the alleged unambiguousness of their choice at that time, forming a ringing contrast to the knowledge of the reader, their misinterpretation of the situation and the uncertainty arising from that are put in the spotlight.

43Strikingly, this seminal breaking point between the Romans’ expectations and their dramatic experience is also flagged in linguistic terms. Livy’s narrative displays a sudden switch from past tense to a historical present (9.2.10-13):

Citati inde retro, qua uenerant, pergunt repetere uiam; eam quoque clausam sua obice armisque inueniunt. Sistunt inde gradum sine ullius imperio stuporque omnium animos ac uelut torpor quidam insolitus membra tenet, intuentesque alii alios, cum alterum quisque compotem magis mentis ac consilii ducerent, diu immobiles silent; deinde, […], quamquam ludibrio fore munientes perditis rebus ac spe omni adempta cernebant, tamen, ne culpam malis adderent, pro se quisque nec hortante ullo nec imperante ad muniendum uersi castra propter aquam uallo circumdant, […].
Then, they hasten to get back to the road from which they had come; but they find that this one is also closed with its own barricade and armed men. Hence, they come to a halt without any command, and a stupor comes over their minds and some kind of strange numbness keeps their bodies petrified; and looking at one another – since everyone supposes that his neighbour is more capable of thinking and planning than himself – they stand for a long time motionless and silent. Afterwards […], although they knew that in their desperate situation, deprived of every hope, it would be ridiculous for them to entrench themselves, they started digging and fortified a camp close to the water, each for himself with no encouragement or command from anyone, just so they would not add guilt to their misfortune; […].

  • 40 See Stanzel’s comprehensive work Welt als Text (2010). Stanzel’s discussion of linguistic, narratol (...)

44The significance of the historical present in Greek and Roman narrative, especially in historiography, has been subject to ongoing research. Its interpretation has been developed in a variety of directions, as Franz Stanzel has shown.40 In fact, interest in the use and function of the praesens historicum is already evident in antiquity.

  • 41 Note however, that Kühner as early as (1843) 1142 emphasized that ‘es ist keineswegs immer Lebhafti (...)
  • 42 See e.g. Allan (2011) 41 on Thucydides, arguing that the historical present creates ‘epistemic imme (...)
  • 43 See Stanzel (2011) 135, esp. n. 75, building on Hamburger’s Logik der Dichtung (19773).

45So, the author of the treatise On the Sublime claims (25), that ‘if you introduce events in past time as happening at the present moment, you will make the passage not so much a narrative as a vivid actuality’. The idea of rendering a story more immediate to the reader through the use of the present tense has since then loomed large in modern interpretations of classical texts.41 By contrast, recent linguistic studies in classical scholarship have focussed on a different aspect of the historical present, namely its (alleged) function to signal turning points in the story.42 However, Franz Stanzel, building on Käte Hamburger, has already correctly driven home the point that the historical present should not be regarded as a ‘genre-related narrative element’ (‘gattungsgebundenes Erzählelement’), but as a stylistic device without an ‘actual function’ (‘echte Funktion’) that may be used to different ends depending on the narrative context and, as he stressed, arguably dependent on historically changing factors such as taste and reading-preferences or storytelling-habits.43

46If we read Livy’s switch to the historical present in the context of the Caudium narrative and against the backdrop of the scene’s configuration of uncertainty, the first observation that leaps out is the contrast between the locus amoenusscene and the recognition passage in terms of narrative pace. The narrative pause due to the ekphrastic description of the ideal Caudine landscape is immediately followed up with the Romans’ recognition of their imminent disaster, narrated in the present tense and quickly cutting in one action and reaction after the other. Narrative tardiness appears to have lulled the characters into a sense of false security, while narrative speed and acceleration appears to wake them up and forces them to become aware of their situation.

47In accordance with this, the scene zeroes in on the experiences of the characters and allows us some introspection in their thoughts and feelings. The historical present hence seems indeed to mark a crucial turning point in this case: the sudden change in narrative pace and the simultaneous switch from an aerial perspective to introspection, in combination with the praesens historicum, appears to mirror the troops’ epiphany – and, I would argue, can be viewed as the narrative and linguistic equivalent to the dashing of the Romans’ expectations for safeguard. At the same time, the recognition scene at Caudium also acts as the dramatic climax for which the subtle dynamics of uncertainty on the levels of both characters and reader had set the stage in the paragraphs before. The discovery of the Samnite ambush resolves for the moment the pending tension between expectation and experience, just in order to make room for a new wave of uncertainty about what will happen next.

48The praesens historicum hence also marks this point of temporal transition from one moment of uncertainty to the next. It marks the part in the story that confronts us with the fact that temporal uncertainty is not limited to discrete moments in time, but characterizes human experience in general. The scene tags the spot in Livy’s Caudium narrative that brings to the fore the ever-ongoing dynamics between expectations being built up and experiences correcting them. Narrative composition thus serves as a means to render visible the existential crisis of the Roman army in the Caudine forks, while narratology and a close reading of this narrative form can be regarded as a means to unravel the links between narrative composition and human experience.

49These observations can be backed up further if we turn to the next paragraph where the level of introspection is even higher, a fact that is particularly put into perspective if compared with the (almost) complete lack of introspection in Velleius’ narrative and the sense of closure and disambiguation resulting from it (9.3.1-3):

  • 44 This overconfidence is also a reason for the Romans’ wrong expectations and backs up the argument m (...)

Querentes magis quam consultantes nox oppressit, cum pro ingenio quisque fremerent, [alius] ‘per obices uiarum’, alius, ‘per aduersa montium, per siluas, qua ferri arma poterunt, eamus; modo ad hostem peruenire liceat quem per annos iam prope triginta uincimus: omnia aequa et plana erunt Romano in perfidum Samnitem pugnanti’; alius: ‘quo aut qua eamus ? num montes moliri sede sua paramus ? dum haec imminebunt iuga, qua tu ad hostem uenies? armati, inermes, fortes, ignaui, pariter omnes capti atque uicti sumus; ne ferrum quidem ad bene moriendum oblaturus est hostis; sedens bellum conficiet.’
While they were not so much consulting what to do, but lamenting their situation, night came upon them, and everyone whispered as his nature prompted him. ‘Let us climb over the barriers on the road’, said one, ‘let us climb over the mountains, cross the forests, go wherever we can carry arms, if we can only get to the enemy, who we have now been conquering for almost thirty years;44 any field will be smooth and level for a Roman who fights against a treacherous Samnite!’ Another would ask: ‘Where can we go and which way? Do we want to remove the mountains from their seat? So long as these ridges tower over us – how do you want to get to the enemy? Armed or unarmed, brave or cowardly, we are all alike captured and defeated. The enemy will not even draw his sword on us, so that we may die with honour; he will end the war by sitting still.’

50Two observations are important here. First, the scene yields an intriguing degree of introspection prompted by the elliptic, quickly interrupted speeches, counter-speeches, and questions voiced by nameless Roman soldiers. The brief speeches are displays of the characters’ thoughts and feelings, and the way in which they are narratively assembled – elliptic, in quick succession, leaving behind nothing but loose ends and open questions – seems to mirror quite adequately the inner and outer confusion of the historical agents in the forks of Caudium.

51Besides, the speeches and questions are barely moderated or chaired by the main narrator, except for the intermittent insertion of an alius/alius sequence, and could thus as well be directed through the fourth wall and at the reader of Livy’s narrative. The reader is, as a result, confronted with a peculiar scenery in which the night comes upon (nox oppressit) an unanswered polyphony of bodiless, nameless voices debating alternative scenarios of what to do next – a set-up that might prompt him to ponder himself what he should or would do in the Caudine forks.

52The composition of the scene thus seems adapted to bring the reader close to the ‘Erfahrungswelt’ of the characters and allow him a taste of their uncertainty, without however subjecting him to the dangers and constraints of the actual historical situation. The ‘experience’ of the reader here is not the first level experience of the characters feeling the cold of the night, the fear of the enemy, and the dread of the uncertain future; the reader’s experience is mediated, filtered through the narrative texture of the scene which is crafted in a way to bring the reader closer to a past reality, but which also marks the ontological difference between an existential experience on the one hand and an intellectual, aesthetic, or ‘as-if’ experience in the act of reception on the other.

  • 45 On this point, see also Morello (2003) 306.

53Secondly, while the situation of the Romans is, indeed, visually presented in its desperation, the brief elliptic speeches inserted into this passage also show that the future of those trapped at Caudium is not (yet) displayed as a telos without alternatives. Individual, albeit nameless, soldiers are given voices to utter their assessment of the situation and propose their solutions. The imagined attempt to engage the enemy in an actual battle is juxtaposed with fantasies of escape as well as the desperate lamentation that only a miracle could prevent them from humiliation. But Livy constructs this critical moment in history not as the great lines drawn from an authoritative point of view, not as a collapse without alternatives. History here arises from the decisions of individuals,45 and it is presented as a contingent development with an open future looming on the horizon, and, last but not least, as open for different interpretations, for different actions and rivalling voices.

  • 46 This observation also throws into relief the crucial importance of the path-image as a metaphor, gi (...)

54This does not necessarily mean that any of the ‘solutions’ suggested by the nameless voices would have changed the outcome as such, although they might have been able to find a way that would at least prevent them from losing their face. But what is more important, the polyphony as just described results in a conception of history in which human agency, individual decisions, and counterfactual deliberations have room46 – much unlike what we have seen in Velleius, whose narrative downplays notions of this kind and strongly favours the great lines of an abstract historical force operating through great men, who in turn appear rather as static tableaux of vices and virtues than as men of flesh and blood.

  • 47 Grethlein (2013) 45, on Thucydides.
  • 48 A possible way to elaborate further on these thoughts is a comparison with the Samnites’ actions at (...)

55By definition, these set-ups result in two warring narrative conceptions of uncertainty – putting it on stage upfront in Livy, and hiding it beneath the seams of a carefully crafted, teleological plot in Velleius. If we take together both observations, it seems safe to argue that to the reader, the Roman past here must appear quite convincingly as the open future it was for the troops facing the Caudine disaster, and not so much as the past it has already become to them. In Grethlein’s words, ‘in driving home the openness of the past when it was still present’,47 a passage like this alerts to the fact that history – just as the Romans before and in the forks – could have taken an entirely different route.48

56Let me back this observation up with yet another paragraph in the Caudium episode capitalizing on the gap between the characters’ expectations and experiences and thus, re-configuring uncertainty as a major characteristic of the human condition on the level of the story (9.5.6-9):

Redintegrauit luctum in castris consulum aduentus, […]. Alii alios intueri; contemplari arma mox tradenda et inermes futuras dextras obnoxiaque corpora hosti; proponere sibimet ipsi ante oculos iugum hostile et ludibria uictoris et uoltus superbos et per armatos inermium iter, inde foedi agminis miserabilem uiam per sociorum urbes, reditum in patriam ad parentes […].
Fresh lamentations broke out in the camp when the consuls returned […]. They look at one another; they gaze on the arms that they have to surrender soon, gaze on the right hands that will be helpless without them and on their bodies that will soon be at the mercy of the enemy. They picture before their eyes the hostile yoke, the victor’s ridicule and their arrogant faces, and they picture how they have to pass unarmed between the ranks of their armed enemies, picture the miserable way of a pitiful band through the cities of their allies, their return to their own home and their parents […].

  • 49 This emphasis on visuality, lifelikeness and the power of making something appear in front of your (...)
  • 50 This is also a splendid example of the connection between conceptions of embodiment on the one hand (...)

57These paragraphs draw heavily on the arsenal of vision and sight.49 Faced with the imminent catastrophe, the Romans turn to each other, look at one another and literally picture their future before their mind’s eye. They even go so far as to imagine how their hands and bodies will feel when not able to use their swords and fight. In their minds, they literally cover the distance between Caudium and Rome, passing under the gaze of their enemies and allies in a walk of shame. Livy’s visual depiction of the Romans’ attempt to cope with their situation displays what we could call an ‘embodied expectation’.50 By imaginatively living through their imminent future they anticipate in an almost physical way the sensations and feelings bound to the traumatic experience that is likely to come to pass.

58This attempt to prepare and to cope with a potential future before the advent of the catastrophe is particularly significant if we compare it to the Romans’ previous behaviour that had brought them into their current situation in the first place. Tricked by the seemingly idyllic landscape of the forks and by a false sense of security, Livy’s Romans have stumbled into the Samnites’ trap without an ounce of suspicion. The fact that they did not even try to tailor their expectations towards a potential danger or ambush is in Livy’s narrative highlighted through the fact that the hints are there right from the beginning for the reader to pick up on. The discrepancy between the reader and characters drives home the uncertainty they are experiencing, as well as the fact that they had missed to reflect upon their unconscious expectations and presuppositions about the further development of the Samnite Wars.

59When Livy’s Romans now picture their future and live through it by anticipating as much of it as possible, this must be understood as an attempt to learn from this mistake. The Romans engage in what we could call scenario-making in order to prevent a second fatal experience crossing naïve, wrongly built up expectations. Having learned the hard way from the immediate past, they now try to eliminate the risk of their expectations falling prey to an illusion yet again. Learning from the immediate past, they attempt to reduce temporal uncertainty by trying to form an expectation towards the future that is as close to the worst-case scenario as possible.

60They attempt to create an expectation that is, from the current point of view, most likely to be confirmed by their imminent experiences. What happens next is all the more pervasive (9.5.11-14):

Haec frementibus hora fatalis ignominiae aduenit, omnia tristiora experiundo factura quam quae praeceperant animis. Iam primum cum singulis uestimentis inermes extra uallum exire iussi; et primi traditi obsides atque in custodiam abducti. Tum a consulibus abire lictores iussi paludamentaque detracta; tantam <id> inter eos qui paulo ante [eos] exsecrantes dedendos lacerandosque censuerant miserationem fecit, ut suae quisque condicionis oblitus ab illa deformatione tantae maiestatis uelut ab nefando spectaculo auerteret oculos. […] (9.6.3) Ita traducti sub iugum et quod paene grauius erat per hostium oculos […].
While they were murmuring these complaints, the fatal hour of their humiliation came, an hour that, when it finally befell them, made everything more sorrowful than they had anticipated in their minds. To begin with, they were ordered to pass outside the rampart in only a single piece of clothing and unarmed, and the first group of hostages was handed over and led off into custody. Then the lictors were ordered to walk away from the consuls and they were stripped of their generals’ cloaks: this inspired so much compassion in the same men who had, a little while before, cursed them and demanded that they should be turned in and put to physical torture, that now everyone forgot about their own situation and averted the eyes from that degradation of so sacred an office as from a sacrilegious spectacle. […] (9.6.3) Thus they were sent under the yoke, and, what was almost worse than that, under the eyes of their enemies […].

61The Romans’ attempt to learn from their immediate past and to prevent another trauma of dashed expectations fails and is rendered void. Their act of scenario-making did not succeed in building up expectations that were actually confirmed by the experience of succumbing to the Samnites. On the contrary, when the fatalis hora arrives everything is much worse than they could ever have expected. The ‘embodied anticipation’ is not successful – it fires back and renders the actual experience even more painful, and thus puts in the spotlight the uncertainty of the situation.

  • 51 See Jaeger (1997) 181.

62When I claim that the Romans’ coping mechanisms in limiting uncertainty are shown to fail here, then this observation is strikingly in line with Mary Jaeger’s analysis of Roman crisis reactions, exemplified for Camillus at Ardea, Romulus fighting the Sabines or Marcius fencing off the Carthaginians.51 Jaeger shows that help in times of crisis is regularly brought from the outside, ‘from a person who treats the emergency with a degree of detachment’. ‘Adopting or creating detached and external points of view’, so Jaeger further, ‘helps the Romans recapture space and expand their territory.’

  • 52 On the vocabulary of enclosure in the locus amoenus scene see also Morello (2003) 293 who emphasize (...)

63In Caudium, on the contrary, neither a move to the outside perspective nor emotional detachment seem to be possible. The spatial framework and confinement of the forks, just as the narrative frame of the episode,52 closes off the Romans from their outside world, from their capital, and even from their exemplary identity as Romans as derived from their triumph over the Gauls. Trapped in the forks, whose geography is depicted as an isolated space with no possibility to escape, all this is not possible, as Lentulus states (9.4.13-14):

Quis enim ea tuebitur ? Imbellis uidelicet atque inermis multitudo. Tam hercule quam a Gallorum impetu defendit. An a Veiis exercitum Camillumque ducem implorabunt ? Hic omnes spes opesque sunt, quas seruando patriam seruamus, dedendo ad necem patriam deserimus [ac prodimus].
Who shall protect them [i.e. Rome’s buildings, walls and people]? Sure, the peace-loving and unarmed crowd… the same way it preserved them from the onset of the Gauls. Or will they pray that an army may be sent from Veii and a Camillus to command it? Here are all our hopes and our resources, which we save by saving our country and which we abandon and betray by turning them in.

  • 53 See esp. Chaplin (2000). On the exemplary function of the Ab urbe condita as a whole as visible fro (...)

64In the current situation all hopes are hic, ‘here’, i.e. confined to this time and this exact space. In this sense, the spatial dimension of Livy’s Caudium makes the episode an alternative draft of successful Roman crisis management. Literally and metaphorically, the Romans have reached a dead end. After choosing the wrong route of the ambiguous itinerary, the prison of the forks prevents them from deriving hope and orientation from exemplary episodes in their past similar to Caudium, for instance from the sack of Rome through the Gauls. No such attempt is made here and given the crucial role Livy attributes to exemplarity,53 this lack of exempla must indeed seem surprising. A thought along these lines is revived later in the narrative when Livy’s Romans are about to take revenge and to re-write their story (9.14.10):

[…] et pro se quisque non haec Furculas nec Caudium nec saltus inuios esse, ubi errorem fraus superbe uicisset, sed Romanam uirtutem, quam nec uallum nec fossae arcerent, memorantes caedunt pariter resistentes fusosque, […].
And while every man repeated for himself that these were no forks, no Caudium, and no impassable forest, where deceit had arrogantly triumphed over error, but Roman virtue which neither ramparts nor trenches could stop, they killed them all alike, those who offered resistance and those who fled, […].

65The dimension of both space and movement is again highlighted. Now, unlike in Caudium, ditches and trenches cannot separate the Romans from their virtue, as Jane Chaplin has shown. But back when they were locked in the ravine, the tension between the unknown future and a past lost, could only be survived, but not solved, and its painfulness could not be dimmed down through the imagery of virtual scenarios. The contingency of Roman history at Caudium, geographical and narrative, is put on display in all its inevitability.

66If we examine this composition through the lens of my earlier reading of Velleius, the peculiarity of Livy’s narrative becomes apparent. Unfortunately, it is not possible to compare Livy’s and Velleius’ depiction of the same event as the transmission ironically preserved the two texts in an almost complementary way. But as a makeshift, we can match Livy’s Caudium with the account of another crisis in Velleius in order to illuminate the differences in narrative form. Velleius’ depiction of the war after the Panonnian revolt, a campaign led by Tiberius and witnessed by Velleius himself, is an apt point of comparison. After highlighting how little the barbarians had to set against Tiberius’ strategy, Velleius draws attention to a critical moment in the battle (Vell. 2.112.4-6):

at ea pars quae obuiam se effuderat exercitui quem A. Caecina et Siluanus Plautius consulares ex transmarinis adducebant prouinciis, circumfusa quinque legionibus nostris auxiliaribusque et equitatui regio […], paene exitiabilem omnibus cladem intulit: fusa regiorum equestris acies, fugatae alae, conuersae cohortes sunt, apud signa quoque legionum trepidatum. sed Romani uirtus militis plus eo tempore uindicauit gloriae quam ducibus reliquit, qui multum a more imperatoris sui <dis>crepantes ante in hostem inciderunt quam per exploratores ubi hostis esset cognoscerent. iam igitur in dubiis rebus semet ipsae legiones adhortatae, iugulatis ab hoste quibusdam tribunis militum, interempto praefecto castrorum praefectisque cohortium, non incruentis centurionibus, <e> quibus etiam primi ordines cecidere, inuasere hostes nec sustinuisse contenti perrupta eorum acie ex insperato uictoriam uindicauerunt.
But the part of their forces that had rushed out to meet the army which the consulars Aulus Caecina and Silvanus Plautius were bringing from the oversea provinces, had surrounded five of our legions as well as some auxiliary troops and the royal cavalry […], and it inflicted an almost fatal disaster to all of them: the royal mounted troops were put to rout, the cavalry of the allies was driven back, the cohorts turned around, and there was even panic around the standards of the legion. But in this moment, the courage of the Roman soldiers claimed more glory than it left over for the commanders – who, much against the strategy of the imperator, attacked the enemy before they even knew from their scouts where the enemy was actually located. In this critical condition, the legions – shouting encouragement at each other, although some of the military tribunes had been slain by the enemy, although the camp prefect and several prefects of the cohorts had been killed, and although the centurions had not remained without bloodshed (even some of their first ranks had died) – attacked the enemy and, not satisfied with putting him off, broke through their line and seized a victory from a hopeless situation.

67Whereas Livy unfolds the Samnites’ ambush before the eyes of the reader, unravels the Romans’ mistake step by step and immediately stages the contingency of their situation, Velleius summarizes all this in just a half sentence – the enemy surrounded the Roman legions and inflicted an almost inescapable situation.

68Where there is a colourful depiction in Livy pointing out the embodied desperation and coping attempts of the characters, Velleius limits his account to an elliptic, paratactic summary: fusa acies; fugatae alae; conuersae cohortes sunt; apud signa legionum trepidatum (2.112.5). The gazing upon each other, the lamentations and brief direct speeches of the characters, their struggle to manage their situation as presented in Livy has its counterpart in Velleius condensed in just one word, trepidatum.

69The scene in Velleius is void of character introspection and instead dominated by narratorial authority, particularly so in the last paragraph of the episode. Here, the struggles of the Roman troops – fallen soldiers, fallen prefects and high rank commanders – are presented as ablativi absoluti, strung together in a long sentence construed to climax in the denouement, the happy ending of the Romans’ victory against all odds. The grammatical and dramaturgic construction of this sentence confirms some of the central observations I have pointed out in the chapter on Velleius. The Velleian narrative constructs history from its anticipated telos and presents historical events as summing up and leading to their climax. The participial construction accelerates the storyline and lets the reader hasten towards the solution, thus presenting the Roman struggles and uncertainty not in their own right and open-endedness, but as a mere foreplay of the natural and logical happy ending and victory.

  • 54 The use of paene is already a hint at the rhetorical composition as the medium through which the pa (...)
  • 55 Note however that while Velleius leans towards closure and Livy towards openness, the respective op (...)

70While Velleius downplays the uncertainty of the situation and eliminates its contingency altogether (not least by anticipating that the battle was only paene inexitiabilis),54 Livy emphasizes uncertainty. In other words, where there is closure in Velleius, there is openness and narrative enactment of uncertainty in Livy.55 Thus, by reading Livy and Velleius it is possible for a reader to ‘experience’ (Roman) history in two divergent ways – a fact that allows a reader to engage in uncertainty without the constraints of everyday life and to reflect on the scale of possible attitudes we as human beings can take towards the past and to the uncertainty of our lives through narrative.

4.2.3 Herennius’ Oracle and Livy’s Virtual History

71As mentioned in the second chapter, when I elaborated on the concept of uncertainty as having a temporal and hermeneutic dimension, contingency and ambiguity are no dichotomy. In this section, I would like to focus on a scene within the Caudium episode that is well suited to illuminate this intertwinement, namely Herennius Pontius’ ‘oracle’ (9.3.4-13).

  • 56 See Gadamer (19652) 338 who argues that any experience deserving of the name is actually the disapp (...)

72In the previous paragraph, I have shown how the Romans’ expectations and their experiences drift apart. But it is not only the Romans who are puzzled by the unexpected situation. The Samnites too, whose perfectly laid plans had worked out exactly as they had hoped, find themselves baffled by their own success and have their expectations dashed – albeit in a positive way (9.3.4: Ne Samnitibus quidem consilium in tam laetis suppetebat rebus […]).56 Undecided what they should do with the Roman soldiers trapped in the forks, they send a messenger to Herennius Pontius, the father of the Samnites’ leader, eager to know how to proceed. The reply the envoy brings back to the camp, however, turns out quite differently from the way they had expected, and appears to be uttered ex ancipiti oraculo (9.3.6):

Is ubi accepit ad Furculas Caudinas inter duos saltus clausos esse exercitus Romanos, consultus ab nuntio filii censuit omnes inde quam primum inuiolatos dimittendos. Quae ubi spreta sententia est iterumque eodem remeante nuntio consulebatur, censuit ad unum omnes interficiendos.
When he received the news that the Roman armies were trapped between two passes in the Caudine forks and when he was asked by his son’s messenger for his opinion, he advised that they should all be released unharmed as soon as possible. After this view had been rejected, and when the same messenger returned and consulted him for the second time, he recommended that all, to the last man, should be killed.

  • 57 See also Oakley, Comm. ad loc., who puts Herennius in the Greek and Roman literary tradition of the (...)

73Herennius’ mysterious, oracular answer is presented in indirect discourse. Faced with his contradictory advice, the younger Pontius is inclined to believe that his father’s mind had given way. Strikingly though, just a couple of lines earlier, Herennius had been introduced as a man who in corpore tamen adfecto uigebat uis animi consiliique (9.3.5) – whose mind and judgment retained their vigour even in a weakened body. This explicit hint has subtly foreshadowed the fact that his advice will prove sound and reliable and aligned Herennius with the rank of old and wise messenger figures that loom large in Greco-Roman tradition.57 To resolve the situation, Pontius decides to consult with his father in person attempting to learn the reasons for his ambiguous response. Herennius explains himself as follows (9.3.10):

[…] priore se consilio, quod optimum duceret, cum potentissimo populo per ingens beneficium perpetuam firmare pacem amicitiamque; altero consilio in multas aetates, quibus amissis duobus exercitibus haud facile receptura uires Romana res esset, bellum differre; tertium nullum consilium esse.
[…] Through his first proposal, he explained, – which he thought was the best –, they established ever-lasting peace and friendship with the most powerful people by means of an act of tremendous kindness; through his second proposal, they deferred war for many generations to come, during which it would not be easy for the Romans to regain their strength after the loss of two entire armies; there was, he said, no third option.

  • 58 See Morson (1994) who focusses on novels by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky to demonstrate the significance (...)

74This second ambiguous reply can be best described as a form of ‘sideshadowing’. The concept of side-shadowing has been developed in analogy with such narratological concepts as foreshadowing or prolepses, i.e. the narrative anticipation of later developments, and backshadowing or analepses, the insertion of flashbacks illuminating earlier events or contexts of the main storyline. Analogously to these categories, side-shadowing is used to describe narrative hints that point ‘outside the story’ or draw attention to possible alternatives to the main storyline.58

  • 59 Morson (1994) 6. See also Grethlein (2013) 14.

75The concept of side-shadowing goes back to Slavic specialist Gary S. Morson, who developed it in order to throw into sharper relief those moments in narratives that do not foreground notions of inevitability – a sense that is easily installed in a story telling events in retrospect – but that stress the openness and contingency of the course of action. In Morson’s words, ‘by focusing on the middle realm of possibilities, by exploring its relation to actual events, and by attending to the fact that things could have been different, sideshadowing deepens our sense of the openness of time’.59

  • 60 Similarly, Fludernik (2002) excludes (modern) historiography from her ‘natural narratology’.
  • 61 The most popular form of side-shadowing is certainly counterfactual history, although side-shadowin (...)
  • 62 One of the most famous examples of side-shadowing in the form of an elaborate counterfactual episod (...)

76Side-shadowing has been developed as a device to describe and analyze modern fiction, and against the backdrop of our modern understanding of academic historiography the concept seems to have no place in historical writing.60 Indeed, examples of side-shadowing in contemporary historiography are rare, although ‘counterfactual history’ enjoys increasing popularity.61 By contrast, ancient historical writing knows many examples.62

77Herennius’ brief speech about the different scenarios likely to happen depending on the Samnites’ decisions are indeed an example for Morson’s technique. When Herennius sketches the two paths he deems possible in the current situation, we are alerted to the fact that at this point in history more than one future is possible. In drafting two potential routes Herennius also drafts two potential futures and two fates for the Samnites and the Romans. In Livy’s narrative, for the moment of Herennius’ speech all these futures coexist at the same time, namely as (still) possible worlds – thus carrying the idea of uncertainty to the extremes. As long as the ravine is blocked and as long as Herennius is talking, the soldiers trapped in the forks are at the same time ‘dead’ and ‘alive’, destroyed and saved.

78Side-shadowing here comes in the shape of what we can call an intradiegetic polyphony which is concentrated on one messenger figure. It stages Rome’s future as open and uncertain and once again, sketches a picture of history where individual decisions and rivalling interpretations of the status quo have room and power. The prominent position this technique attributes to uncertainty in Livy becomes even more apparent if compared to the parallel transmission in Appian.

  • 63 For Herennius’ speech in Appian, which is presented as a rather formal speech between him and his s (...)

79Strikingly, Appian places the Herennius scene after the surrender of the Romans and embeds it in a plotline where the Romans have already urged the Samnites to finally agree on their action against them.63 Besides, the messenger speech is in Appian’s version not split into different stages of clarification, but rendered in one coherent piece. As a result there is no temporal deceleration, no delay that enhances narrative tension as happens in Livy. Furthermore, Herennius’ advice is not received by a messenger and delivered to the Samnite camp, and consequently the allusion to the oracle – whose prophecy is usually sought afar and brought back to the city – goes missing.

  • 64 See Walsh (1990) 97, on Liv. 36.18.8: ‘This chapter affords an excellent example of Livy’s techniqu (...)
  • 65 See also Oakley, Comm. 69-70 who notes that Livy’s account seems indeed to be unmatched and stands (...)

80Patrick Walsh has argued with reference to another, similar episode that Livy in depictions of crisis-torn events tends to reserve key information for a late point in the story in order to build up narrative tension, while Appian is more likely to present the same scenes by displaying all relevant pieces of information right ahead.64 The technique of side-shadowing in this scene that creates the paradox of Rome’s future existing in multiple shades at once thus appears to be indeed a specifically Livian twist.65

  • 66 For ‘virtual history’ in Livy as a means to involve the reader in the story, see Pausch (2011) 246- (...)

81What is more, the virtual history66 of Herennius’ oracle also alerts us to the fact that the narratological category of side-shadowing gains its impetus not only through its implications for the narrative construction of time. It is, once again, exactly the entanglement of the temporal and hermeneutic dimension that shows how deeply uncertainty is structurally ingrained in the way we experience and interact with the world: Livy’s Herennius narrative is a trenchant example to demonstrate how narrative is not only a configuration of time, but also of hermeneutic grids. In Livy’s narrative, the ambiguous and open state of Rome’s future which brings to the fore the painful side of human temporality is mutually entwined with the fact that Livy decided to install a hermeneutic interpreter who orders, structures, and evaluates the infinite number of possibilities into a set of two alternative histories. Herennius’ act of selecting and weighing the ‘raw material’ in order to bring it into a meaningful context and relationship can indeed by viewed as an emblem of the work of the historian; just as Herennius’ assesses and orders the vast body of impressions and information available to him, the historian assesses and orders a vast body of material in order to bring it in a narratively coherent shape.

  • 67 See Oakley, Comm. 68, offering further examples and bibliography.

82These observations are in need of further qualification. As already mentioned earlier, the fact that we are dealing with historiography has far reaching consequences. There is a good chance that the reader does in fact know that the Samnites will decide for a third option – a fact that might even intensify the effect of enacted uncertainty as just described. When Herennius is shown to claim that a third route will not be viable although a well-informed reader knows already that it is exactly this ‘impossible third future’ that will become Rome’s reality, then this narrative composition puts on stage the tragedy of the situation: one of Rome’s most disastrous defeats turns out to be the result of a most improbable decision. Side-shadowing breaks open the well-known historical tradition and inserts contingency where there would usually be no room for surprises, and the idea of a ‘but, what if’ gains momentum for the reader – and particularly so since Herennius is in line with a long tradition of warning figures, familiar since Homer, who turn into tragic heroes because their sound advice is ignored.67

83Only when directly asked for a third option, Herennius then also sketches the third possible future, this time in direct speech (9.3.12):

‘Ista quidem sententia’ inquit ‘ea est, quae neque amicos parat nec inimicos tollit. Seruate modo quos ignominia inritaueritis; ea est Romana gens, quae uicta quiescere nesciat. Viuet semper in pectoribus illorum quidquid istuc praesens necessitas inusserit neque eos ante multiplices poenas expetitas a uobis quiescere sinet.’
‘That’, he answered, ‘is an idea that neither wins friends nor removes enemies. Just leave alive men you have provoked with humiliation: the Romans are a people that does not know how to keep quiet after defeat. Whatever their current plight will have branded in their hearts, it will stay there – and it will not let them rest before you have received your punishment, over and over again.’

84In terms of uncertainty, this final scene of the Herennius episode is particularly striking since it drafts a full-blown scenario: if they decide to humiliate the Romans instead of killing them or setting them free, peace will be impossible. The Romans will experience the worst humiliation in their history and the Samnites will risk falling prey to their revenge. The scenario is directly followed by an almost cynical ablative absolute: neutra sententia accepta – the briefest possible way to say that none of Herennius’ suggestions has been accepted. This ablative absolute transforms the old man’s scenario into an outright prolepsis. The scenario overshadows the events to come and thus subtitles the Romans’ subjugation with two divergent meanings simultaneously: the walking under the yoke is now, at the same time, the Romans’ rock bottom and the initial spark of the Samnites’ destruction and Rome’s rise to power in Italy.

85In summary, Herennius’ oracle enacts both temporal and hermeneutic uncertainty in a nutshell and reveals their interrelation. By side-shadowing alternative Roman futures, the narrative alerts us to the fact that the past we know is only one of many possible realities. Livy enacts uncertainty in the past, thus revealing its omnipresent influence in our lives. The side-shadowing lifts the tension between experience and expectation on a different level. At the same time, hermeneutic uncertainty is likewise woven into the scene. Before the Romans’ subjugation has even become reality, Herennius’ scenario gives twofold meaning to the event, thus laying open the ambiguity of human experience as it emerges in times of crisis.

4.2.4 Rivalling Voices and Polyphony

  • 68 On enemy speeches in Roman historiography, see now also Adler (2011).
  • 69 The contributions to Lianeri’s edited volume on Knowing Future Time In and Through Greek Historiogr (...)

86Let us now turn to the role of hermeneutic uncertainty in more detail. The most trenchant narrative feature responsible for the strong sense of ambiguity in Livy’s Caudium narrative is the polyphonic composition of the passage. The implications of this polyphony in Livy can, once more, be brought to the fore if read against the backdrop of Velleius. As has been shown, Velleius conceptualizes history as a monolithic space with no room for controversies. Livy on the contrary composes Rome’s history as arising from an orchestra of voices. While Pausch has examined Livy’s polyphony in order to put into perspective his allegedly blunt patriotism and pro-Roman agenda, thus focussing on the interplay between Roman and outsider perspectives,68 I wish to build on these observations, but to go one step further and focus on a more existential dimension bound to this narrative technique by reading the polyphonic structure as a manifestation of hermeneutic uncertainty.69

  • 70 On concepts of polyphony in the study of Greek historiography, see also Lianeri (2016) 13-9 who rig (...)
  • 71 On ancient discourses on the role of speeches in historiography, see e.g. Pitcher (2009) 103-11, Pa (...)

87We can distinguish different forms of polyphony.70 Intradiegetic polyphony refers to a composition where several characters in a narrative are given a voice. Their opinions, thoughts, and interpretations, often concerning the same event or development, are juxtaposed. On the other hand, extradiegetic polyphony describes those instances where Livy as a narrator puts his own version into perspective by referring to his sources, other historians or writers commenting on the same question. Further to this, I would like to propose a third form of polyphony which is closely related to the idea of a shift in meaning. We find this kind of polyphonic schema in all those instances where an event, a person or a historical interpretation is taken up again at a later point in the narrative in order to be re-assessed or re-interpreted. Accordingly, the concept of polyphony I propose here is closely connected to, but not identical with an examination of speeches in historiography.71

  • 72 It has often been emphasized that it is indeed difficult to overestimate the importance of speech i (...)
  • 73 On characterization in ancient historiography, see e.g. Pitcher (2011) 102-17, building his argumen (...)

88Scholarship on speeches is vast and has in the last decade produced many crucial insights into the nature of ancient historical writing and beyond.72 For one thing, it has been argued that direct speeches allow for a specific form of characterization in historiography, namely by having the characters enact and perform their vices and virtues in a seemingly unmediated way, instead of presenting them from an authoritatively authorial point of view.73

  • 74 See Oakley, Comm. ad loc.
  • 75 See Grethlein (2014b) [online resource].

89In this connection, Stephen Oakley and others have also driven home the point that speeches place the historian in a position where he can utter politically or historically problematic opinions without speaking in his own literary persona and thus (possibly) distancing himself from them.74 Furthermore, Jonas Grethlein and Koen De Temmerman have interpreted the speeches as markers of experientiality, i.e. as a narrative technique used to zoom in on the experiences of the historical characters and to make the past present again for the reader; in a nutshell, Grethlein argued that ‘when words render words, narrated and narrative time converge and we seem to gain unmediated access to the past’.75

90My interpretation builds on many an insight of these studies, but I wish to take a slightly different approach here by not only considering speeches given by Livy’s characters, but also rivalling interpretations and reassessments on the level of narrative. Instead of isolating speeches as one distinctive narrative feature, I propose to understand them as only one element of a more complex polyphonic structure in Livy, a narrative technique that results in a sketch of the past diametrically opposed to what I have demonstrated for Velleius. Using this Velleian filter, this paragraph sets out to understand Livian polyphony as an orchestration of divergent voices and interpretations, both intra- and extradiegetic, engaged in a dynamic process of the construction (and questioning) of meaning. Hence, polyphony is examined as the emplotment of ambiguity, enacting the existential tension between potential interpretations, and staging hermeneutic uncertainty as part of the human condition.

  • 76 See Forsythe (1999) 78.
  • 77 See also Oakley, Comm. 17: ‘A consequence of L.’s including so many speeches is that he grants a he (...)

91Let us first turn to the construction of polyphony within the Caudium episode. In his study on Livy and early Rome, Gary Forsythe offers a list of all historical speeches given in the first decade, divided into brief quotations or short speeches with less than 150 words, speeches of moderate length ranging from 150-550 words, and longer speeches surpassing this scope.76 Intriguingly, five of sixteen speeches of moderate length listed by Forsythe fall within the Caudium passage which can thus already from a quantitative perspective be seen as a splendid example of polyphony.77

Postumius and Pontius

  • 78 On Quadrigarius’ take on the matter, see Oakley, Comm. 17.

92The polyphonic debate about the repudiation of the Caudine peace is a powerful illustration of hermeneutic uncertainty in Livy, both on an intradiegetic and an extradiegetic level.78 As Livy mentions, there is no consensus on the legal status of the Caudine peace among his predecessors (9.5.2-3):

Itaque non, ut uolgo credunt Claudiusque etiam scribit, foedere pax Caudina sed per sponsionem facta est. Quid enim aut sponsoribus in foedere opus esset aut obsidibus, ubi precatione res transigitur, per quem populum fiat quo minus legibus dictis stetur, ut eum ita Iuppiter feriat quemadmodum a fetialibus porcus feriatur ?
Thus the Caudine peace came about not through a treaty (foedus), as is commonly believed and as Claudius even writes, but through a solemn pledge (sponsio). For, what need would there have been for guarantors or for hostages in a treaty, where the agreement is settled with a prayer that Jupiter will strike the people responsible for any infraction of the stated terms the same way a pig is struck by the fetials?

  • 79 As part of Roman international law, a sponsio was a treaty characterized by stipulatio, i.e. a verb (...)
  • 80 The foedus was a ceremonial treaty of peace and friendship between Rome and another state, usually (...)

93By drawing our attention to the fact that it has been controversial whether the Caudine peace had been entered by means of a sponsio79 or a foedus,80 Livy opens up the scenery for discussion and rivalling interpretations of an only allegedly irrefutable reality. While Livy makes it clear that in his opinion the sponsio was the only measure the consuls were allowed and able to take without the authorization of the people, he nevertheless has Postumius and Pontius debate the legal and ritual validity of the agreement.

  • 81 See e.g. Ullmann (1927) for a rhetorical analysis; also Oakley, Comm. ad loc.
  • 82 Cf. 9.8.11: Quae ubi dixit, tanta simul admiratio miseratioque uiri incessit homines ut modo uix cr (...)

94After they returned to Rome, a senate session is held in which the Caudine peace is discussed. Postumius as one of the consuls who had agreed on the shameful peace is invited forward to explain himself. Livy presents Postumius’ explanation and plea for war in two senate speeches which frame a brief rejection by the tribunes of the plebs rendered in oratio obliqua.81 In his first speech (9.8.2-10), Postumius is able to win over the senate.82 By pointing out that the sponsio is not binding for the whole of the Roman people because it was given without the people’s authorization, he prepares his appeal to the gods and the senate to clear the way for a renewed war against the Samnites, a iustum piumque bellum, as Livy writes.

95In his second speech (9.9.1-19), Postumius refutes the tribunes’ objections by invoking a series of brief counterfactual scenarios. In a sequence of ‘what-if’- narratives – presented as conditional clauses in the irrealis mood – he posits several hypothetical scenarios that could also have come about, in order to characterize their current situation. All these potential scenarios are devastating for the Roman people, and Postumius argues that – if the tribunes are right to consider the sponsio binding – this by extension means that the consuls do not need authorization from the people for any decision they could possibly have to take in a situation as the one at Caudium (9.9.5-7):

An, si eadem superbia, qua sponsionem istam expresserunt nobis Samnites, coegissent nos uerba legitima dedentium urbes nuncupare, deditum populum Romanum uos tribuni diceretis et hanc urbem, templa, delubra, fines, aquas Samnitium esse ? […] quid tandem, si spopondissemus urbem hanc relicturum populum Romanum ? si incensurum? si magistratus, si senatum, si leges non habiturum? si sub regibus futurum ? […] si quid est in quo obligari populus possit, in omnia potest.
If the Samnites had forced us – using the same arrogance with which they had squeezed this sponsio out of us – to speak the solemn words of those who surrender cities, would you, tribunes, then say that the Roman people had been surrendered and that this city with her temples, shrines, land, and waters now belonged to the Samnites? […] So, what if we had made a pledge that the Roman people would abandon this city? What if we had pledged they would set it on fire? If we said, it should not have magistrates, a senate, laws? That it should be ruled by kings? […] If there is anything for which the people can be bound, they can be bound for everything!

96Postumius’ rhetorical strategy is set to disconcert those listening to him. He evokes before his audience – an internal audience in Livy’s narrative – a vivid scenery of Rome’s immediate past and renders this past colourful by zooming in on the way it was experienced by the troops in the forks, by the original, historical agents. Caudium is here already in the past, but Postumius’ speech evokes it as the present of those who experienced it first hand in order to bring his audience face to face with the existential threat that had set in motion the sponsio/ foedus dilemma they are now debating.

97When we read Postumius’ strategy against the backdrop of observations made earlier, i.e. the emphasis Livy puts on polyphony and the technique of sideshadowing, it seems safe to take Postumius’ scenario-making here as a metahistorical foil that encompasses in a nutshell the Ab urbe condita’s take on uncertainty.

  • 83 These are comparable to the so called ‘if-not-situations’ or ‘Beinahe-Episoden’ which loom large in (...)

98Indeed, the if-clauses, similar to the famous ‘Beinahe-Episoden’ in ancient epic,83 are also a form of side-shadowing. They refer us to virtual storylines outside the plot with which Livy has chosen to describe the events at Caudium. The if-clauses crack open the alleged linearity and continuity of time, setting the internal audience and the external reader of Livy’s narrative back in time and space and allowing them a glimpse into the uncertainty of Rome’s future when their armies were still trapped in the forks and forced to accept any demand by the Samnites, no matter the condition.

99But there is a second aspect in these what-if-clauses that deserves closer attention. After all, forsaking Rome, leaving her temples and shrines and seeing their capital burn – the scenario Postumius stages here invokes more than a virtual development. The phrasing that Livy’s Postumius chooses is not only suitable to depict a fictional image of what could have happened, but it also necessarily triggers the memory of one of Rome’s worst defeats in history, the sack of Rome by the Gauls not long ago, after which parts of the Roman population voted to leave the city with its temples, sanctuaries, and infrastructure behind and to take refuge in Veii. Besides, Postumius’ other scenario of returning to monarchy and to a time without magistrates, senate and jurisdiction harkens back even further in Rome’s history. The threatening vision created here evokes the memory of another two dark chapters in the past of the city, namely the time of the kings and the struggle of the orders.

  • 84 Cf. 9.10.4: emersisse ciuitatem ex obnoxia pace illius consilio et opera.

100By means of what we could call negative exemplarity, Livy’s Postumius associates the acknowledgment of the Caudine peace with falling prey to some of the darkest episodes in Roman history. By extension, the repudiation of the peace is given meaning as both legally valid and as a righteous decision solidly backed up by historical experience. This impression is reinforced when Postumius’ audience uses his speech and commitment as an opportunity to compare him to Publius Decius Mus and when they claim that the state had resurrected, emerged from the dark of a shameful peace through him.84

  • 85 M. Furius Camillus is among the most heavily studied figures in Livy’s narrative. On Livy’s present (...)

101The phrasing and use of the verb emergere puts Postumius close to the ‘second founders’ of the city such as Camillus.85 His choice to repudiate the Caudine peace is thus rendered meaningful as a choice to secure the city and refound Rome’s pride. This is particularly striking since this simple association with Rome’s second founders evokes a powerful line of exemplary figures in Roman history which bestows on Postumius’ persona the authority and reputation engraved in the memoria rerum gestarum of his illustrious ‘predecessors’.

102However, Pontius’ speech puts the Roman interpretation into perspective and lays open the deep ambiguity reaching beyond the mere question of whether or not the peace must be considered binding. In a similar way to Postumius before, Pontius invokes a virtual scenario to illustrate his point (9.11.3-4):

Populum Romanum appello; quem si sponsionis ad Furculas Caudinas factae paenitet, restituat legiones intra saltum quo saeptae fuerunt. Nemo quemquam deceperit; omnia pro infecto sint; recipiant arma quae per pactionem tradiderunt; redeant in castra sua; quidquid pridie habuerunt quam in conloquium est uentum habeant; tum bellum et fortia consilia placeant, tum sponsio et pax repudietur.
I call upon the Roman people; if they regret the sponsio that was given at the Caudine forks, then they should put their legions back in the ravine where they were locked. Nobody shall deceive anyone here; everything shall return to the status quo; they shall take up the arms they gave up in the pact; they shall return to their camp; whatever they had on the day before they came to the discussion they shall have: then they shall opt for war and armed measures, then they shall reject the sponsio and peace!

103Pontius claims that the Romans would have never taken the arrogant decision to repudiate the peace while they were still trapped in the forks, and he thus drafts a scenario virtually to rewind history to the climax of uncertainty in the ravine, as if everything afterwards had not happened. Again, one of Livy’s characters engages in the same narrative strategy to win over his audience as Livy’s polyphonic history as whole. In this case, Pontius appears to go for even heavier armaments by not only evoking an alternative history, but by also drawing heavily on the arsenal of what we could call ‘embodied clues’.

  • 86 The focus on ‘the embodiment of mental processes and their extension into the world through materia (...)

104The scene Pontius sketches does not result in a static tableau put up before the eyes of his audience, but appeals to sensory-motoric experiences. The Romans are virtually put back in the forests where they shall take up their arms, go back to their camp, cast votes, and reject the peace: the ‘virtual Romans’ are presented as acting characters, moving around in space and physically, bodily interacting with the world. The strategy Pontius is following here is strikingly in line with recent conceptual and empirical research on the significance of embodiment and embodied reading in the engagement with written (or verbally presented) story-worlds.86

105Advocates of the embodiment-turn have argued that a story is particularly engaging or immersive when it resonates with the sensory-motoric and bodily experiences that are the fundaments of the way in which we interact with the world. To put this point differently, reading (or listening to) a story does not only affect our imagination, but is deeply mediated through the fact that we engage with the world through, or better as our bodies. Reading about children playing on the beach not only draws a picture before our minds’ eye, but also makes us feel the sand between our toes and lets us taste the salt on our tongues. Pontius’ colourful scenario does exactly this and is geared towards putting his audience in the shoes of the Romans in the Caudine forks, thus making clear the absurdity of the alternative version he proposes: who in their right mind – that is the subtext of this virtual-history-scene – would go back in time and take this decision?

106Both Pontius’ and Postumius’ brief virtual histories are intriguing examples of a side-shadowing that works both on the level of the characters and the level of the readers. On an intradiegetic level, the scenarios evoked by the two speakers aim at convincing their audiences of their stance vis-à-vis the legal status of the Caudine peace and the moral quality of the Romans’ behaviour. The reader of Livy’s narrative, on the other hand, is able to draw together both passages of virtual history and read them against the backdrop of the Caudium episode. In other words, the reader is able to connect the points and appreciate Livy’s narrative configuration of uncertainty over the course of the Caudium narrative as a whole. Caudium is riddled with notions of uncertainty, and the speeches of Postumius and Pontius reveal how this uncertainty is still at stake, twisted into hermeneutic ambiguity, in retrospect.

107By embedding the Caudine peace within two different counterfactual scenarios, charging it with different meanings and different historical associations and backgrounds, the narrative composition Livy chooses here draws attention to the fact that history could have taken different paths altogether and remains always subject to rivalling interpretation. The uncertainty that is enacted on the level of the characters is so, once more, forwarded to the reader of Livy’s narrative to negotiate.

108Besides, in the light of Pontius’ narrative, the repudiation of the peace is conceptualized as a manifestation of Roman cowardice, and of an arrogant decision not to be true to one’s word. This meaning is further elaborated on when Pontius aligns the Romans’ behaviour after Caudium with earlier events in Roman history such as the Cloelia episode and their revenge on the Gauls after the sack of Rome. And he adds (9.11.6-7):

Nunquamne causa defiet cur uicti pacto non stetis ? […] Et semper aliquam fraudi speciem iuris imponitis.
Will you never lack a reason not to abide by a contract when you have been defeated? […] And every time you give the fraud some appearance of legality.

109Pontius renders the repudiation of the peace meaningful by understanding it as the paradigm of one of the Romans’ dominant habits: their inability to accept defeat and their simultaneous success in giving this inability a positive spin and the appearance of legality. While both speakers – the former implicitly, the latter explicitly – make sense of the repudiation by reference to the past, their interpretations turn out to be at loggerheads. In between these two speeches, the Caudine peace is shown as devoid of intrinsic meaning and in need of interpretation. Again, hermeneutic and temporal uncertainty are entwined. The ambiguous status of the peace that is flashed out before the reader results in a conception of history where the past is also an undecided present that develops into an open future. It is the hermeneutic instability of the Caudine peace that destabilizes the idea of an inevitable course of history and that renders visible the temporal uncertainty of the historical agents.

110But when speaking about the Caudine peace in these passages, it is not only the question of whether its repudiation is legally valid or not that is crucial. The scene also draws attention to the fact that our interaction with the world is fundamentally linked with a necessity to assess, order, and evaluate the ‘raw material’ we are confronted with through a hermeneutic grid. Over the course of Livy’s narrative, Caudium has been given a number of different meanings that have changed, developed, been dashed and reinstalled over the course of the story. Caudium was the hope of the Samnites when they first spread the rumour and laid out their plans to trap their enemy; it was a well-known landscape exempt from risk or danger for the Romans and the literary topos of the locus amoenus for the reader; it was the embodied disappointment of expectations for the naïve Romans spoiled by military success, the emblem for their defeat and humiliation, and at the same time, the Samnites’ great revenge; it was riddled with hermeneutic uncertainty when neither Romans nor Samnites knew how to proceed and thus put Rome’s history in a superposition of states, having different meanings and different futures at once; it was then a foedus and sponsio at the same time, and as such, subjected to legal and constitutional debate; and finally, it was the manifestation of Roman cowardice and Samnite hubris.

111The reader – outside of the confinements of Livy’s story-world – is unlike the characters able to recognize and appreciate these clues, interpretations, and exegeses over the course of the development of the narrative. The manifold meanings Caudium and the Caudine peace are charged with over the course of this episode remain for the reader to be juxtaposed, compared, evaluated, ordered, interpreted and made sense of.

112The fact that these assessments are presented to the reader not mediated through a pre-interpreting narratorial voice as we have seen in Velleius mimics the way in which we have to filter and put in order the impressions we are confronted with in our everyday lives. Livy’s narrative draws attention to this fundamental hermeneutic act without which we would not be able to interact with the world and with one another.

Ambiguous Exemplarity after Caudium

  • 87 See Chaplin (2000), for Caudium as an exemplum esp. 41-9. On the memoria Caudina as a theme of book (...)
  • 88 Chaplin (2000) 47, n. 36 refers to Perlman (1961) 150-66 as making an analogous point when showing (...)

113Herennius’ oracle and the speeches given by Pontius and Postumius have already revealed that a historical event in Livy is not presented as being invariably bound to a certain meaning. In a similar manner to Herennius’ proleptic interpretation, a number of later instances refer back to Caudium, give meaning to it in divergent ways and thus increase its ambiguous quality. As Jane Chaplin has shown, Caudium is one of very few exempla that are referred back to frequently over the course of the extant portion of the Ab urbe condita.87 In her book Livy’s Exemplary History Chaplin has used these instances to argue that Livy’s concept of what constitutes an exemplum is in fact much wider and more complex than has usually been recognized, and that exempla in Livy, in spite of the monument-metaphor in the preface, are not stable entities, but subject to adaptation and change.88

114In this paragraph, I wish to add to her reading of exemplarity in Livy by complementing it with an in-depth study of one of the exemplary Caudium adaptations. By including the re-interpretation of Caudium in a reading of Livy’s polyphonic narrative take on uncertainty, it is possible to throw into sharper relief the subtle narrative destabilization in Livy’s take on exempla and to raise questions that go beyond Chaplin’s interpretation.

  • 89 For a complete list and brief contextualization of all these instances, see Chaplin (2000) 41-9; fo (...)

115There are seven instances in the extant portion of the Ab urbe condita where Livy inserts references back to Caudium and the Caudine peace.89 One particularly striking passage is Livy’s account of a Roman excursion through the Ciminian Forest during the final years of the Second Samnite War, later in book 9. After the Romans were victorious in a first combat, they flee into the woods to seek refuge. Although their campaign was a success, they hesitate to follow the enemy (9.35.8). At this point, the narrative is interrupted in favour of a brief description of the scenery (9.36.1):

Silua erat Ciminia magis tum inuia atque horrenda quam nuper fuere Germanici saltus, nulli ad eam diem ne mercatorum quidem adita. Eam intrare haud fere quisquam praeter ducem ipsum audebat; aliis omnibus cladis Caudinae nondum memoria aboleuerat.
Back then, the Ciminian forest was more impassable and gruesome than were lately the Germanic woods, and no one – not even a merchant – had visited it up to that time. To enter it was a thing that hardly anyone but the general himself was bold enough to do; for all the others, the memory of the Caudine forks had not yet faded away.

  • 90 Cf. 9.36.9-10. After a period of general hesitation, the consul’s brother volunteers and makes his (...)
  • 91 Chaplin (2000) 42.

116As in the Caudium episode, the passage starts from a depiction of the territory the Roman troops are going to explore. The forest is described as impenetrable, and, learning from their past experiences at Caudium, the Romans are more than cautious in taking a risk – an approach that a little later also prompts them to watch out for potential ambushes and to keep control over the entrance of the pass.90 Unlike in the forks, the Romans do not rush their decision, or, as Chaplin writes,91 they ‘recognize their two great mistakes – not scouting in advance and not protecting the rear guard’, and they correct them.

  • 92 For the ‘atmosphere of gloom’ put forward in Livy’s narrative of the crossing of the Ciminus, see a (...)
  • 93 Note also that this is an intriguing contrast to an earlier reference to Caudium, cf. 9.19.9, withi (...)

117This observation can be pushed further. The peculiar dynamics of narrative and uncertainty here arise from the intertextual interplay between the original Caudium narrative and its use as an exemplum in the Ciminian forest episode on the one hand, and from the interaction between the intradiegetic level with the level of reception on the other. For the reader, it is not only the explicit reference to the memories of Caudium that connects the dots between Rome’s earlier disaster and current situation and thus foreshadows an analogous fate; it is also the more subtle intertextual hint at the impassable and appalling landscape that highlights the moment of uncertainty. The quotation of Caudium, here, also functions to a great extent through the narrative context which alludes to the scenery of the original events and takes up the sinister atmosphere92 of being confined – literally and metaphorically – in the narrow ravine of the forks.93

118This enactment of uncertainty on the level of reception is juxtaposed with the description of the characters’ experiences. On an intradiegetic level, the memory of the atmosphere in the forks, here acting as the grammatical subject, appears to work as a means to reduce uncertainty and to map out cautiously the situation before taking action; the memoria cladis Caudinae has not yet been annihilated (nondum aboleverat) and protrudes widely into the characters’ own present. As a result, it holds them back and makes them cautious. The Romans are shown in this situation to be learning from the past and to be able to use Caudium as an exemplum to develop a more thorough and well-informed assessment of their current conditions.

  • 94 This definition is based on Genette’s (1983) 49 theory of focalization as ‘une sélection d’informat (...)

119Thereby, the narrative is focalized through the eyes of the Romans, or in other words, the information we get as readers is, in general, the information available to the Romans in the story-world.94 However, at a second glance we can see that the narrative at this point switches – if only for the glimpse of a moment – to what Genette calls zero-focalization, namely when the memory of Caudium is described as ‘not yet’ having faded away. The notion of the ‘not yet’ is introduced into the scene as a subtle comment on part of the narrator that might easily go unnoticed.

  • 95 This interpretation can be bolstered by Chaplin’s findings on the overall use of exempla in Livy. A (...)

120Describing the Romans’ memory as ‘not yet having faded away’ presupposes a later condition where the memoria Caudina does in fact lose her power – a knowledge the Romans surely did not have at this point of the story. Thus, the explicit nondum enhances the moment of uncertainty for the reader by foreshadowing a possible development that, for the characters, is not yet foreseeable. Knowledge of the reader and of the characters stands once more apart. And strikingly, the retrospective knowledge of the narrator, embodied in the nondum, results here not in a reduction of uncertainty as we have seen in Velleius’ narrative, but a reinforcement of the readers’ suspense, in sketching a picture of history being the fatal present of the characters that may (or may not) be steering into a future where Caudium will have lost its power as an exemplum.95

  • 96 See Chaplin (2000) 41-2.

121Chaplin is hence certainly right in drawing attention to the fact that this scene reveals Livy’s take on exemplarity, even if Caudium is not explicitly referred to, as well as in claiming that the Romans are able to learn from the past and prevent a second Caudium. But she does not recognize the subtle narrative destabilization of the exemplum that is put forward through the authorial comment in the adverb nondum when she reads the Ciminian forest as a straightforward example of successful exemplarity in Livy.96

122Due to the ‘not-yet’ phrase, even a successfully applied exemplum is embedded in a narrative in which history is contingent. Thus, Caudium is here charged with different meanings for the characters in Livy’s story and for the readers of Livy’s narrative. For the Romans, Caudium is equated with fear and shame and calls for cautious decision making; it derives its meaning from the similarities between the earlier and the current situation, and, read in the right way, it is a means to reduce uncertainty and, for now, closes the gap between experience and expectation. By tapping into past uncertainty, the characters dim down uncertainty in their present.

  • 97 See also Jauß`s (1982) 85 characterization of the aesthetic experience as oscillating between ‘disi (...)

123On the contrary, Caudium for the reader means prolonged contingency. It subtly foreshadows new moments of uncertainty to come and is charged with what we could call a hermeneutic weakness: its meaning and function as an exemplum and as a point of guidance and orientation in times of uncertainty is presented to the reader as a mere status quo that will eventually be subject to change. This tension between the reader and the characters in combination with the tension between the original narrative and its exemplary quotation in the Ciminian forest episode draws attention to the very texture of narrative and allows us as readers to appreciate both an immersion into the dramatic experiences of the story-world and a reflection upon the aesthetic quality of Livy’s version of them.97

124This interpretation can be elaborated on by throwing a glance at the next reference to Caudium that still belongs to the scenery of the Samnite-Roman quarrels in the Ciminian forest. It is not only the Roman troops who are reminded of the trap in the forks when faced with the sinister thicket of the woods. When the Samnites hear about the Romans’ explorations of the forest, they react in an analogous way (9.38.4-6):

Profectio Q. Fabi trans Ciminiam siluam quantum Romae terrorem fecerat, tam laetam famam in Samnium ad hostes tulerat interclusum Romanum exercitum obsideri; cladisque imaginem Furculas Caudinas memorabant: eadem temeritate auidam ulteriorum semper gentem in saltus inuios deductam, saeptam non hostium magis armis quam locorum iniquitatibus esse. Iam gaudium inuidia quadam miscebatur, quod belli Romani decus ab Samnitibus fortuna ad Etruscos auertisset.
While Quintus Fabius’ departure through the Ciminian forest had excited great fear in Rome, it brought good news to the enemies in Samnium, namely that the Roman army was locked and besieged – and they recalled the Caudine forks as the condensed and exemplary image of a disaster: by the same audacity, they said, this people – that always wanted what was beyond its reach – had been led into impassable forests and was now locked more by the difficulty of the terrain then by the arms of the enemy. Soon their joy became blended with envy, since fortune had transferred the glory of the Roman war from the Samnites to the Etruscans.

125The Samnites’ memory of the Caudine forks is triggered, as Livy writes, by a fama, a personified rumour that brings forward the ‘report’ that the Roman army was again trapped and besieged. While Caudium meant fear for the Romans and proved to be a successful exemplum that had saved them from being ambushed in the Ciminus, it is now shown to be bestowed with an additional layer of meaning: for the Samnites, Caudium is synonymous for Roman weakness, defeat and short-sightedness, and it is a vehicle of certainty and reassurance that foreshadows their own victory – an estimate that is going to be proved right, at least for the moment, when the Samnites succeed in wounding the consul and damaging the Roman troops severely in a minor battle (9.38.8).

  • 98 Miles (1995) comes to a similar conclusion from a different perspective. Noticing the weight Livy a (...)

126At this point of the narrative, ambiguity becomes particularly obvious since for the reader, all these different layers of mutually exclusive meaning are perceptible at once. While we could certainly read this juxtaposition as a moment of pro-Roman narrative and a Romano-centric record on Livy’s part that will over the long course of the story show the Romans’ take on exemplarity to be successful and the Samnites to fail, such a reading falls short in drawing together all the consequences of the narrative composition: Caudium as a narrative of crisis and uncertainty is also uncertain as an exemplum. For the characters, it may or may not be a successful means to offer guidance and orientation, depending on, we might say, the hermeneutic skills of its interpreter and his ability to scrape together all information available to contextualize it and read it against this backdrop. For the reader, Caudium as an exemplum raises to the surface the fact that the past is constantly subject to interpretation and reassessment.98

  • 99 See again Chaplin (2000) 41-9, esp. 47 for the summary on which I build here.

127Caudium as an exemplum is hence not shown as a trans-temporal building block that can be used to stabilize the continuity between past, present and future at any given position, but as dependant on context and on interpretation – a fact trenchantly mirrored in the number of meanings that are bestowed on the crisis narrative over the course of the Ab urbe condita. Apart from the adaptation in the Ciminian forest as analyzed above, Livy’s Caudium is presented to the reader in later instances as the embodiment of Roman resilience and humiliation at the same time, it simultaneously stands for both the Samnites’ strength and defeat, it is a practical lesson for both people, successfully adopted by the Romans and fatally misinterpreted by the Samnites; it is a religious lesson and an exhortation to fight and stand one’s ground in desperate situations, and it is, however, also the embodiment of contingency itself, namely when misinterpreted or when recalled too late.99 As a result, Livy’s narrative representation of the Caudine forks enacts the tension between different potential interpretations of one and the same event. It is an enactment of ambiguity.

  • 100 See also Levene (2006) 73-108.

128When we link this observation back to Livy’s preface, it seems safe to read the Caudium narrative and its later, exemplary adaptation metahistorically – a read ing which also may allow us to tease out some nuances of the prooemium that have been neglected so far. Reading the scene metahistorically means reading it as a narrative comment on the genre of historiography and on Livy’s self-positioning within that genre.100 In the preface, Livy mentions the offering of models for imitation and avoidance as the great merit of his historiographical project (praef. 10):

  • 101 On the peculiar phrase tibi tuaeque rei publicae, see e.g. Oppermann (1967) 176, Koster (1996) 253- (...)
  • 102 This programmatic passage has been the fundament of a number of studies combing through the Ab urbe (...)

Hoc illud est praecipue in cognitione rerum salubre ac frugiferum, omnis te exempli documenta in inlustri posita monumento intueri; inde tibi tuaeque rei publicae101 quod imitere capias, inde foedum inceptu foedum exitu quod uites.102
In the study of history it is particularly serviceable and fruitful to contemplate the lessons of any kind of example that are set out on a bright monument; from it you can choose for yourself and for your community what to imitate, and you can choose what to avoid because it is spoiled from beginning to end.

  • 103 For a synopsis of ancient concepts of the utility and usefulness of history, see e.g. Fornara (1983 (...)

129When we take seriously the take on uncertainty in the Caudium passage and the interplay of intra- and extradiegetic uncertainty in its later uses as exemplum, then reading this configuration metahistorically has far reaching consequences. Exemplarity as one of the core utilities of history103 – or in the terminology of this book as a remedy for uncertainty is, in and by Livy’s narrative, shown to be uncertain itself. The result is a fundamentally open image of Rome’s past in which history is subject to hermeneutic exegesis and develops into an open future. Livy’s narrative embeds even successfully applied exempla into a history that is thought of as ambiguous and contingent, and thus destabilizes their ability to create continuity and to paper over the gap between past and present, present and future.

  • 104 This reading is in line with Pausch (2011), who argues that Livy’s narrative techniques are designe (...)

130By extension, this destabilization effects Livy’s historiography as a whole, which builds on the programmatic account in the preface conceptualized explicitly as a monumentum of exemplarity, both negative and positive. With Caudium as a metahistorical foil for the Ab urbe condita, Livy’s narrative draws attention to the fact that it is itself just one of many possible versions of Rome’s past and to the fact that it itself does not stand above interpretation, exegesis and evaluation on behalf of its readers.104

  • 105 On Livy’s preface see still mostly Amundsen (1947) 31-5, Walsh (1955) and especially the thorough c (...)
  • 106 Cf. praef. 2: (…) quippe qui cum ueterem tum uolgatam esse rem uideam, dum noui semper scriptores a (...)
  • 107 Cf. praef. 3: (…) et si in tanta scriptorum turba mea fama in obscuro sit, nobilitate ac magnitudin (...)
  • 108 With Moles (1993) 145 who highlights the contrast between Livy’s claim – in which he finds a hint a (...)

131This idea of destabilization within Livy’s historical work as such can be backed up by his preface as well.105 Right in the beginning of the prooemium he draws attention to the polyphony of historians’ voices – the novi semper scriptores and the tanta scriptorum turba – against which he has to compete with his version of Rome’s history, both in terms of what he writes and how he writes it.106 What is more, he takes into account the possibility that his record might be overshadowed by later records of the same events.107 By this means, he puts on display the uncertainty of transmission and the fact that he conceives of his history, too, as being subject to rivalling assessment and interpretation – namely by posterity shaping their own narrative of Rome’s past by judging, evaluating, reaffirming, overthrowing and selecting information available to them in a polyphony of voices.108

  • 109 Miles (1995) 6.

132Gary Miles comes to a similar conclusion when he asserts that Livy’s narrative is indeed organized ‘so as to direct attention away from the idea of Roman tradition as something permeable, through which the historian may penetrate to a prior reality, toward the idea of tradition as something opaque and impenetrable and therefore itself the ultimate object of the author’s reconstruction, analysis, and interpretation’.109 Seen from this angle, the Caudium narrative and its later reception are inner-textual mirrors that contain and enact in a nutshell the programmatic ‘poetics of uncertainty’ that characterizes Livy’s conception of history and historical narrative.

4.3 The Limits of Uncertainty: Closure in Caudium

133So far I have concentrated on the narrative techniques in Livy that result in the enactment of uncertainty. The narrative composition produces a strong sense of openness and sketches Roman history as developing into an undecided future and as subject to rivalling interpretations – which is in many ways directly opposed to what I have demonstrated for Velleius’ historiography. However, the analysis of Velleius has also brought to light the fact that narrative closure and the elimination of uncertainty can hardly be complete. While I have shown how Velleius comes down on the side of closure and Livy on the side of openness, the subtle re-entry of uncertainty through the agency of fortune in Velleius’ narrative has revealed that closure and openness should not be conceived of as a clear-cut dichotomy. They represent rather poles of a continuous spectrum along which every narrative moves and shapes its individual episodes. It is this interplay between the two poles that gives us a crucial insight into a historian’s take on uncertainty.

134Indeed, Livy’s Caudium narrative also encompasses this other side of the coin. While the episode conceives of Rome’s past as the present of the historical agents and while this present is shown to be in constant need of interpretation, the first hint at a reduction of uncertainty can already be found in the very beginning of the scene, namely in the way in which Livy introduces the Caudium episode to his readers (9.1.1):

Sequitur hunc annum nobilis clade Romana Caudina pax T. Veturio Caluino Sp. Postumio consulibus.
In the following year came the Caudine peace, well known because of the Roman disaster that preceded it, in the year when. T. Veturius Calvinus and Sp. Postumius were consuls.

  • 110 The disaster of Cannae is later in Livy’s narrative anticipated in a similar way, cf. 22.42.10. Str (...)

135Just as in the Velleian micro-prolepses, Livy anticipates in short the course and outcome of the events to follow.110 Before diving into the scene and having the Romans enter the forks and fall prey to the ambush, Livy anticipates the disastrous end the events will come to, the well-known Caudine peace. By this means, the narrator makes sure right from the outset of the scene that those readers who are shaky on the details of Roman history are also well aware of the greater plotlines they have to expect. The micro-prolepsis thus reinforces the historical pre-knowledge of the reader and guides their reading expectations towards the question of how exactly the proverbial disaster and peace will come to be about in Livy’s version.

  • 111 See also Oakley, Comm. ad loc.

136On the level of the reader, the brief foreshadowing of the telos of the story must be viewed as a form of narrative counterpoise that in part balances out the uncertainty put on display in Livy’s Caudium. What is striking, however, and what shows once more the crucial position of uncertainty techniques in Livy’s narrative, is the way in which this telos is introduced. The phrasing nobilis clade Romana pax is a striking oxymoron111 that weaves together peace and war and gives the reader a taste of the complex entanglements involved in the events at the Caudine forks. Closure in Livy is thus not without a hint of uncertainty stealing back onto the stage.

  • 112 Oakley, Comm. ad loc. points out how Livy’s syntax and word order here clearly subordinates the hap (...)

137What is more, a closer examination shows that the brief 14-word sentence that starts the episode encompasses in a nutshell the scene’s entire narrative configuration of uncertainty and its interplay of closure and openness on the levels of time and hermeneutics. Let me start with the temporal dimension. The sentence is embedded within traditional markers of the annalistic scheme, the names of the eponymous consuls of the year.112 Besides, the explicit reference to sequitur hunc annum draws attention to the sequentiality of history and complements the annalistic scheme that conceptualizes history as developing linearly from year to year and into an open future.

138Both these aspects contain an act of temporal and hermeneutic positing or ‘Setzung’. The configuration of time through the traditional annalistic scheme is a hermeneutic act that orders and interprets time as (i) sequential and developing into an open future and (ii) as Roman time, i.e. as deeply interwoven with Roman political culture and as giving meaning to a ‘raw material’ of events, impressions, developments in the ‘Lebenswelt’ of the people from a Roman perspective. Hence, the two temporal markers that gird this very first sentence of the Caudium narrative encompass both an emphasis on and a reduction of uncertainty through the implications of the annalistic scheme: the open-ended development of time is shown to be grappled with by means of a hermeneutic grid through which to order and make manageable the flux of time, i.e. the eponymous consuls and the clear-cut structure of annalistic storytelling. In other words, the annalistic scheme reveals itself to be at the same time an enactment of uncertainty and a ‘Formverfahren’ that is supposed to make temporal uncertainty manageable.

139This subtle interplay of closure and openness that lies at the core of Livy’s annalistic scheme gains particular relevance if compared to Vergil, who in the Aeneid chose to recast Rome’s traditionally annalistic past – as he found it chronicled in Ennius’ Annals – in a teleological form. Against this backdrop, Livy’s decision to follow the annalistic scheme with all its consequences for the configuration of uncertainty seems all the more striking.

140The interplay of closure and openness that characterizes Livy’s annalistic scheme can also be found in the middle section of the sentence, albeit in a slightly different form. The almost elliptic juxtaposition of the Caudine peace and the disaster the preceded it tears open and closes off again the tension between experience and expectation in the glimpse of a moment. The temporal quality of human life as arising from the tension between our expectations towards the future and the experiences that either confirm or, in this case, thwart these expectations is here subtly put on display.

141What is more, it anticipates the narrative configuration of this tension that will shape the narrative of the Caudine disaster in the following part of Livy’s Ab urbe condita. Taken in itself, the brief phrase does indeed capitalize on notions of uncertainty letting the reader wonder about how exactly one will lead to the other and how Livy comes to this exact judgment of the events; but taken together with the narrative that follows, the phrase also reduces uncertainty and acts as a form of closure by anticipating both the outcome of the events (and thus reinforcing the reader’s historical pre-knowledge) and by pre-configuring the tension between expectation and experience that shapes the events at Caudium both at the level of Livy’s characters and that of reception.

142In other words, depending on where we are coming from, the same phrase has two different potential effects in terms of uncertainty, and it is accordingly a trenchant example to illustrate that it is difficult, if not impossible, to pin down the ‘effects’ or ‘Wirkung’ of a narrative strategy in absolute terms. It is a ‘Wirkungspotential’ that is crucially determined by the narrative context in which the respective strategy is used, and we might add, it is certainly also dependent on the individual reader’s taste, experience, pre-knowledge and, as trivial that may sound, willingness to get herself into the story-world and the logic of the plot.

143Besides this, there is a third aspect in the sentence I would like to draw attention to. In the apposition nobilis clade, Livy drives home the point that the Caudine peace derived its meaning and significance in large part from the defeat in the forks that preceded it. This construction reveals once more that writing history is a hermeneutic act that shapes the raw material of events and impressions into a meaningful narrative following an inner logic, building up causalities and weaving loose ends into a story-world with rules and laws against which individual episodes must be read and measured. Thus, this part of the sentence is not so much a form of closure itself, but a subtle hint at the fact that every narrative composition engages in closure-activities by casting the story into a plot through a pre-interpreting hermeneutic grid.

144The explicit interaction or subtle interplay of closure and openness is thus a fundamental and defining part of the act of storytelling that gains particular significance in historiography where the material of the story is much more clearly predetermined than in fiction. The phrase that starts Livy’s crisis narrative of Caudium – a story presented as being riddled with temporal and hermeneutic uncertainty – draws attention to both that uncertainty and to narrative’s capacity to contain this uncertainty. At the same time, the brief foreshadowing of the outcome of the events at Caudium in the anticipated evaluation of the peace as nobilis results in a form of narrative closure that counteracts the uncertainty-heavy composition of the actual description of the events. While Livy thus most certainly comes down on the open-ended side of the uncertainty-spectrum and while his narrative embodies a trenchant anti-pole to Velleius, the observations just sketched throw into perspective once more the fact that it is the interaction of both poles that characterizes narrative grappling with uncertainty on a general scale.

  • 113 Morello (2003) 306.

145Let me add a second element of closure in Livy’s Caudium episode to elaborate on this thought further. Another stronger sense of closure can be observed in the end of the scene – thus framing the crisis narrative of the Caudine peace, enacting uncertainty on all levels, with hints at closure. After the controversial repudiation of the peace through the Romans, the war against the Samnites is renewed, and while going back and forth for a while fortune is quickly shown to shift in favour of the Romans. But not only are they successful and able to defeat their arch enemy; the Romans are actually in the position to re-write the story, as also Morello has shown.113

146While they can of course not literally reverse history and wipe the slate clean, they are however able to put the Samnites in their own shoes at Caudium and repeat the story under reversed circumstances: the Samnites are sent under the yoke and have to face the same uncertainty concerning their future and the same humiliation the Romans experienced. This idea of a virtual reversion of history is reinforced by Livy’s phrasing. In order to describe the Samnites’ agony when they realized what was about to happen to them, Livy writes that they ‘not only imagined, but almost saw before their eyes all the consequences which would afterwards proceed from it’ (9.12.1). The wording is clearly reminiscent of the way in which Livy had just before described the Romans’ agony, and in which he had emphasized their existential fear by highlighting the almost visual quality of their expectations.

  • 114 Cf. 9.15.8 and 9.15.19.

147History at Caudium is shown to repeat itself under reversed conditions, and Livy’s language is a vehicle to convey this interpretation of the events and install a sense of closure for the Romans where uncertainty and humiliation used to be. This closural aspect is further enhanced by Livy’s narratorial comments at the end of the scene where he calls the victory one of the most deserved successes in the history of the Roman people.114 By this means, the ambiguous tension between the Samnite and the Roman assessment of the validity of the peace and the renewal of the wars is, albeit with a delay, solved. The uncertainty Livy had put on display before is now reduced and merged into a pro-Roman eulogy of the success of the Roman army and its leader.

148But Livy even goes further than this and refers us back to the alternative scenarios, the virtual histories, sketched by Herennius to the Samnites when they had not yet taken their decision of what to do with the Romans trapped in the ravine (9.12.1-2):

Samnitibus pro superba pace infestissimum cernentibus renatum bellum omnia quae deinde euenerunt non in animis solum sed prope in oculis esse; et sero ac nequiquam laudare senis Ponti utraque consilia, inter quae se medio lapsos uictoriae possessionem pace incerta mutasse; et beneficii et maleficii occasione amissa pugnaturos cum eis quos potuerint in perpetuum uel inimicos tollere uel amicos facere. When the Samnites realized that, instead of the peace they had arrogantly imposed, the most pitiless war had been renewed, they had everything that happened afterwards not only ready in their minds, but literally almost before their eyes; and all too late and in vain they appreciated the alternative scenarios suggested by the aged Herennius Pontius – now they knew that by falling in the middle between these scenarios they had treated a victory in their hands for an uncertain peace; and they now knew that by letting slip the chance both of doing good and doing harm, they were now going to fight with men they could have permanently removed as enemies or made their everlasting friends.

  • 115 This corresponds to the second type of closure in Fowler’s typology. See Fowler (2000c) 284 buildin (...)

149Now the consequences of the Samnites’ decision stand apparent. Livy here reevokes the alternative paths history could have taken, had the Samnites listened to either of the counsels suggested by Herennius. Strikingly, this technique of side-shadowing results, in this particular narrative set-up, in an effect of closure. The Romans’ humiliation is avenged and virtually reversed by the very fact that the Samnites voted for the option which in retrospect turns out to be the wrong one. While Herennius’ side-shadowing and virtual history in the original scene had cast Rome’s situation in a highly uncertain light, the reference to the same virtual history is now used to describe the events as satisfyingly final115 and as wrapping up in a logical, if not teleological, way. This shows again that the ‘Wirkungspotential’ of a narrative feature or technique is only realized in interaction with a distinct narrative context.

150But I would like to end this section with a hint at uncertainty. Three aspects can be singled out here. First, we have to record that the reference to the previously told virtual history functions as a narrative closure device only when viewed from a Roman perspective and when following a Romano-centric narrative logic which prompts the reader to ‘take sides’ for the Romans and to empathize with them above all other intradiegetic characters or groups in Livy’s narrative. From a ‘neutral’ (if that is even possible) or a pro-Samnite perspective, the narrative twist re-evoking Herennius’ alternative plotlines certainly adds to the crucial significance of uncertainty in Livy’s Ab urbe condita. This uncertainty may not affect the Romans ‘in’ the story-world, but it concerns Livy’s conception of history as such – where history is clearly shown to be deeply affected by unforeseeable change and hermeneutic ambiguity on the level of the story, and it is presented as the open present and future of the agents on the level of the narrative.

151The narrative strategy that is used to install closure from a Roman perspective also results in a sketch of history as being deeply uncertain, depending on whether the reader wants to follow the hermeneutic grid of Livy’s narrative that puts the Romans in the centre of the world and makes them measure of all things, or whether he skips the Roman bias and approaches the story from a ‘neutral’ stance. Narrative features do not have any inherent meaning, but develop their ‘Wirkungspotential’ in dependence of the narrative context and the perspective, taste or decisions of the reader.

  • 116 Digressions are of major importance in ancient historiography and take a variety of forms depending (...)
  • 117 For extended treatments of the Alexander digression, see among others Walbank (1981) 344-56; Forsyt (...)
  • 118 Livy explains that writing about Papirius Cursor, the consul who won the victory at Caudium (see es (...)
  • 119 Alexander’s brief but brilliant career was indeed often used as a theme of declamation by students (...)

152Secondly, although the reversal of the story through the Roman revenge brings forth a sense of closure, it is striking that immediately after this, Livy has uncertainty re-enter his narrative on an intradiegetic and an extradiegetic level. For once, the Caudium episode is followed by the famous Alexander digression,116 the text-book example of counterfactual history and thus, the narrative enactment of uncertainty.117 After justifying his digression to his readers,118 Livy sets out to elaborate on a problem which, as he says, he has often pondered in his mind, namely the question of what would have happened if there had ever been a war between Rome and Alexander the Great.119

  • 120 For an overview, see Oakley, Comm. 192-9.
  • 121 Livy himself offers three reasons for his including the thought experiment: the fact that people re (...)
  • 122 Indeed, the fact that Livy chose to insert the counterfactual digression after the events of 319 BC (...)
  • 123 Cf. 9.19.9. This is also acknowledged by Morello (2002) 78. See also Forsythe (1999) 117.
  • 124 For a collection of instances in the Alexander digression that recall more or less obvious aspects (...)

153This counterfactual digression covers two entire paragraphs in Livy’s work, and its purpose has sparked some controversial discussions in scholarship.120 Early approaches to the question as e.g. by Piero Treves and William Anderson, have focussed on the explanations which Livy offers himself121 and have paid little attention to the embedding of the scene in the narrative context of Caudium.122 But indeed Caudium is explicitly referred to in the digression, namely as an argument for the Romans’ superiority to Alexander – ‘But which battle could have overthrown the Romans, who could not even have been overthrown by Caudium, nor by Cannae?’ in Livy’s words.123 The explicit link between the counterfactual thought experiment and Caudium as an exemplum – which is thus not only used for future reference, but also in hypothetical scenarios – backs up a reading of the digression against the backdrop of the Caudium narrative and Roman recovery.124

  • 125 On the contemporary references, see Morello (2002) 80-5, arguing against previous readings and inte (...)

154Strikingly, in the very moment where closure is achieved in Livy’s narrative by a reversal of the humiliation in the forks, the story about ‘what would have happened if’ reminds the reader once more of the fact that Rome’s history was not set in stone, but could have developed differently and could have faced different challenges or victories if certain conditions had been changed. The Alexander digression is, among other things, a powerful form of side-shadowing that combines the attempt to cast the past as the present of the historical agents with a rhetorical discourse about Roman identity, the unus homo and one-man rule in Rome’s past and, by extension, its present days.125

  • 126 On this see briefly also Morello (2002) 75: ‘the doubt in the sources seems to militate against Pap (...)

155Thirdly, the narrative of the successful revenge ends on a somewhat ambiguous note, when Livy emphasizes his ignorance of who actually led the Roman army to this remarkable triumph (9.15.9-11):126

Id magis mirabile est ambigi Luciusne Cornelius dictator cum L. Papirio Cursore magistro equitum eas res ad Caudium atque inde Luceriam gesserit ultorque unicus Romanae ignominiae haud sciam an iustissimo triumpho ad eam aetatem secundum Furium Camillum triumphauerit an consulem – Papirique praecipuum – id decus sit. Sequitur hunc errorem alius error Cursorne Papirius proximis comitiis cum Q. Aulio Cerretano iterum ob rem bene gestam Luceriae continuato magistratu consul tertium creatus sit an L. Papirius Mugillanus et in cognomine erratum sit.
More startling is the uncertainty whether it was Lucius Cornelius as dictator with Lucius Papirius Cursor as magister equitum who did these deeds at Caudium and subsequently at Luceria and who held a triumph – which I would be inclined to rate as the best-deserved of all down to that time, right after that of Furius Camillus – because of the unique vengeance he took for Rome’s shame; or whether that honour belongs to the consuls – and particularly to Papirius. This uncertainty is followed by another doubt – namely whether Papirius Cursor, during the ensuing elections, was retained in office in recognition of his successes at Luceria and elected consul for the third time together with Quintus Aulius Cerretanus (then elected for the second time) – or whether it was in fact Lucius Papirius Mugillanus, and there was a mistake with the surname.

  • 127 Oakley, Comm. 167 argues for Quadrigarius (fr. 21) as one of Livy’s sources here since he records t (...)
  • 128 See also Miles (1995) 19, who argues that ‘the narrator’s conspicuous and repeated failure to contr (...)

156Dividing his record of the Roman victories in 320 BCE from those in 319, Livy inserts a brief excursus pondering the discrepancies in his sources.127 Strikingly, his appraisal of Papirius’ deeds and the Roman victory is embedded in a digression discussing whether or not his record is entirely true – a composition of argument that severely destabilizes the closure just installed in the narrative. The merits of the Roman statesman are not presented as irrefutable givens, but as debatable, contingent on human memory or oblivion, and as such also dependent on the power or fragility of archival and historiographical transmission.128

157In the moment of closure, Livy thus evokes an extradiegetic polyphony that puts on display the hermeneutic uncertainty bound to the solution of a proverbial Roman crisis and thus counteracts the previous reduction of uncertainty on the level of the story by a ringing re-entry of uncertainty on the level of historical transmission.

  • 129 Another example can be found in Livy’s account of the battle at the Ticinus River. When the battle (...)

158History thus appears not so much as a monolithic given, but as subject to interpretation, misinterpretation, and reinterpretation – a hermeneutic uncertainty which complements the temporal uncertainty that characterized the story of the crisis year around the disaster at the Caudine forks.129

4.4 Conclusion

159Uncertainty looms large in Livy’s Ab urbe condita. The characters grapple with it in the story-world, and this grappling with uncertainty is forwarded to the reader. The analysis of the Caudium narrative and its reception within the Livian narrative have shown how profoundly Livy’s configuration of uncertainty does in fact differ from the closure-approach we have observed in Velleius, a difference that can be captioned as enactment versus elimination of uncertainty.

160In Chapter 3, I have argued that Velleius’ closure results in a narrative that offers his readers an alternative draft to the experience of change and uncertainty of the early imperial era, which necessarily surfaced with renewed impetus when the imperial power had to be passed on for the first time. The experience of an ongoing reinterpretation of constitutional matters, military threats and defeats in Germany and Pannonia, as well as that of the still shaky inner stability after the volatile circumstances of the civil wars that are part of the early Tiberian ‘Lebenswelt’ are met by a narrative that conceptualizes history in a way that there is no to little room for temporal and hermeneutic uncertainty of this kind.

161As I have shown above, Livy’s narrative take on history is diametrically opposed to Velleius’. The enactment of uncertainty results in a narrative that puts on display breaks and cracks in the continuum of past, present and future, and that places in the spotlight the fact that Rome’s past is in its meaningful inner relations not a given, but a product of interpretation and evaluation by historians’ voices and readers’ exegeses.

  • 130 See also the phrase of ‘futures past’ by Grethlein (2013).

162At the same time, the pronounced focus on the way in which the historical agents grapple with uncertainty produces a historical account that sketches the past as the present and open future of the characters.130 In combination, the enactment of uncertainty on the level of both the characters and the reader’s reception allows the reader to re-experience the uncertainty that characterized the past in a secure space and exempt from the constraints of the actual events; and it gives the reader the chance to reflect playfully on and come to grips with the experience of uncertainty that characterizes his everyday life and in relation to the conditio humana as well.

163I have demonstrated that uncertainty figured prominently in the transitional period between Republic and Empire, and that the issue of uncertainty has also been elaborated on in modern historiography on the late Republic, especially by scholars such as Erich Gruen, who has highlighted the general openness of Rome’s future at the time, and Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, who has pointed out the hermeneutic ambiguity coming to the fore in various fields of public and private life. Strikingly, it is Livy who, in some of his programmatic accounts, gives us a number of hints at the connection between uncertainty and the writing of historical narrative too.

  • 131 On this passage, see briefly also Moles (1993) 148, and esp. 153 referring to its escapist tendenci (...)

164Right in the prooemium, Livy puts specific emphasis on the fact that writing about Rome’s history, especially early history, allows him to avert his gaze from the upheaval and constant political crisis of his time (praef. 5):131

Ego contra hoc quoque laboris praemium petam, ut me a conspectu malorum quae nostra tot per annos uidit aetas, tantisper certe dum prisca illa tota mente repeto, auertam, omnis expers curae quae scribentis animum, etsi non flectere a uero, sollicitum tamen efficere posset.
I, on the contrary, seek this also as an additional reward for my labour, that I can avert my gaze from the troubles our age has been witnessing for so many years while in the meantime I recollect those early days, free from every care which could stir up the writer’s mind, even if it cannot divert it from the truth.

  • 132 Cf. praef. 9. On the remedia, see e.g. Woodman (1988) 133-4. On the dark tones coming to the fore i (...)
  • 133 See also Chaplin (2000) 134-6. Moles (1993) 161 has emphasized that, against Livy’s claim here, the (...)

165That he indeed experiences his present as existentially desperate and uncertain becomes also apparent, when he later on characterizes his times as haec tempora quibus nec uitia nostra nec remedia pati possumus, as an era in which neither the vices nor their remedies can be endured anymore.132 In this context, recalling the past and recollecting it before the mind’s eye (mente repetere) serves as a means of distraction and offers peace and quiet, as Livy has it. It is remarkable that Livy singles out Rome’s ancient history as particularly soothing.133

  • 134 See Jauß (1982) 85.

166The bigger the gap and the greater the differences between his own everyday reality and his subject of writing, the more he appears to find peace in the engagement with the past. This idea is remarkably similar to our modern interest in historical novels or even to what makes people go to the movies, namely the desire to immerse oneself in another reality, be it a past that is made present in a historical novel, or be it a foreign world in the cinema. The distance from everyday restraints and the ‘testing participation’134 in a remote past enable Livy to be omnis expers curae, free from every care that could install anxiety, uncertainty or unrest in his work and life.

  • 135 For this critique, see e.g. Klingner (1967) 51; see also Chaplin-Kraus (2009) 1.

167As is well known, this statement has earned Livy the reputation of a blunt escapist stealing away from the responsibility and seriousness that a ‘true’ Roman historian and senator should be able to muster in times of political upheaval. It indeed qualifies as one of the reasons why his work has been condemned to a large extent by posterity, especially in comparison with historians such as Thucydides and Tacitus.135

  • 136 On the preface in general, see e.g. Amundsen (1947) 31-5, Walsh (1955), Moles (1993) 141-68.

168But if we bracket this concern and read the passage against the backdrop of narrative and uncertainty, we can give Livy’s preface a slightly different spin.136 A good starting point to do so can be found in book 10, more precisely in a paragraph in which Livy concludes his account of the climactic year 295 BCE of the Samnite Wars by highlighting the importance of the events (10.31.10-15):

  • 137 For an assessment of Livy’s chronology as opposed to modern reconstruction of these years of Roman (...)
  • 138 The Latin text is quoted from Conway-Walters (19544).

Supersunt etiam nunc Samnitium bella, quae continua per quartum iam uolumen annumque sextum et quadragesimum a M. Valerio A. Cornelio consulibus,137 qui primi Samnio arma intulerunt, agimus; et ne tot annorum clades utriusque gentis laboresque actos nunc referam, quibus nequiuerint tamen dura illa pectora uinci, proximo anno Samnites in Sentinati agro, in Paelignis, ad Tifernum, Stellatibus campis, suis ipsi legionibus, mixti alienis, ab quattuor exercitibus, quattuor ducibus Romanis caesi fuerant; imperatorem clarissimum gentis suae amiserant; socios belli, Etruscos, Vmbros, Gallos, in eadem fortuna uidebant qua ipsi erant; nec suis nec externis uiribus iam stare poterant, tamen bello non abstinebant. Adeo ne infeliciter quidem defensae libertatis taedebat et uinci quam non temptare uictoriam malebant. Quinam sit ille quem pigeat longinquitatis bellorum scribendo legendoque quae gerentes non fatigauerunt ?138
Even now, there remain more Samnite Wars which we have been dealing with continuously through these last four books and for 46 years, in fact ever since the consuls M. Valerius and A. Cornelius carried the arms to Samnium for the first time; and so as not to recount now the defeats and the hardship suffered for so many years on both sides (which could nevertheless not overthrow their strong hearts)… – in the last year, the Samnites had – sometimes alone with their own legions, sometimes along with others – been defeated by four Roman armies under four Roman generals at Sentinum, in Palaegnian territory, at Tifernum and in the Stellate plains; they had lost their people’s most brilliant general; and now they saw their allies – Etruscans, Umbrians and Gauls – under the influence of the same fortune they had suffered; they were no longer able to hold out by their own efforts and neither with the help of others; and yet they would not abstain from war. So far were they from being tired of their freedom that they had defended so unfortunately, and they still preferred being defeated to not attempting to gain victory at all. Who would be the man who could be annoyed by the length of the wars, whether writing or reading about them, when it failed to wear out those who had to actually fight them?

169If we read this passage against the backdrop of the preface, we can draw some far reaching conclusions concerning the intersection of narrative and uncertainty. In elaborating on the enduring struggle that was the war against the Samnites (343-290 BCE) and pointing out the various defeats and changes of fortune both sides had to suffer, Livy mingles two distinct ontological levels, namely the level of the historical events he is recording and the level of his narrative account of those events.

  • 139 A similar strategy can be observed in Liv. 6.12.2-6 where Livy also addresses his readers admitting (...)

170The most subtle merging of those dimensions can already be found in the first sentence of the passage where Livy writes about the Samnite Wars that he and his readers have conducted them for four volumes of his historiographical work and for a period of 46 years. He combines the expression bellum agere – literally, to wage war – with two adverbial phrases, one referring to the level of his literary work (per quartum volumen) and one referring to the actual historical event (annumque sextum et quadragesimum a M. Valerio A. Cornelio consulibus). The phrase bellum agere joins two different parts of the sentence and thus exploits two shades of its meaning at the same time, i.e. ‘waging war’ and ‘wrapping up that war’ by means of a narrative record. By this semantic syllepsis or zeugma, Livy subtly merges his work as a historian with the historical deeds he is recording. The boundary between conducting a war and recording it for posterity is blurred, and to some extent, Livy fashions himself and his readers indeed as the ones who waged and suffered the labours of the Samnitium bella.139

  • 140 For a similar thought, see also Marincola (1997) 157-8 who points out that Livy in his preface repe (...)
  • 141 The term longinquitas that is in this passage used to characterize Livy’s narrative is also used to (...)

171He drives home this point further at the end of the passage when he asks the rhetorical question, ‘Who in the world would be so annoyed by the lengthiness of the wars that he could not endure them as a reader or writer while they would not grow tired of fighting them?’.140 After repeatedly pointing out the labour and uncertainty on both sides, Livy constructs a memorable analogy between the struggles of the historical characters whose story he is telling, his work as a writer and his recipients’ reading process – in his words, between the actions of gerere, scribere, and legere.141

  • 142 See Pausch (2011) in general, 73 referring to this passage in particular, where he interprets the ‘ (...)
  • 143 In the beginning of book 31 we find an analogous argument that can back up this observation (cf. 31 (...)

172Dennis Pausch has recently argued that this intriguing statement must be understood as a strategy applied by Livy to lure in his readers and motivate them, to push them through potential dry spells in his monumental work by means of an argumentum a maiore.142 While this might certainly be the case, I would propose to push this argument one step further. By intermingling the struggle and uncertainty experienced by the historical agents with the experiences bound to literary production and reception Livy paints a picture in which historical and aesthetic experience collapse into one another. By composing and by reading historical narrative we appear to reproduce historical experience not only by means of representation, but also in experiential terms by ‘doubling’ uncertainty through an aesthetic, narrative act. The struggles bound to the original events are triggered and structurally reproduced through the very acts of writing and reading.143

173This is of course no elaborate theory or sociology of narrative. But what becomes clear in this brief programmatic account is an implicit, encoded conception of narrative as a means to configure uncertainty not only on the level of the story-world – i.e. by sketching characters that experience uncertainty – but also on the very surface of the texture and seams that hold it together. If we combine this observation with Livy’s preface and its alleged escapism, we can even go so far as to argue that historical narrative is also seen as a way of dealing with those experiences of uncertainty that stem from an extra-literary reality.

174Turning away his gaze from the troubles and upheavals of his own time, Livy immerses himself into a realm of experiences of an old time by means of writing, thus switching experience with experience, but never losing grip on the texture of Roman history, and reproducing the labours of the Roman state in the very labours of his writing. In other words, there is a general entanglement between the sujet, the historiographical fabula, the reception of this historical work, and, last but not least, the time in which production and reception take place.

  • 144 Cf. praef. 5.
  • 145 Cf. praef. 10.

175Livy explicitly crafts his work as a guiding system to secure the future in a time of upheaval144 as well as for a generation in need of relearning how to unravel the hermeneutic ambiguity bound to good and bad exempla.145 Without pushing the argument too far, what surfaces in Livy’s programmatic passages are bits and pieces of a subtle idea of historical narrative having the capacity to reproduce historical experience and, in their doing so, offer a playful way of guidance and orientation in a time of hermeneutic and temporal uncertainty.

Notes

1 Chaplin-Kraus (2009) 1. See also e.g. Miles (1995) 1-7.

2 See e.g. Klingner (1967) 51: ‘Livius ist kein Geschichtsdenker, und man soll ihn nicht mit Gewalt dazu machen. Er trägt fast keine Reflexionen, selten einfache Urteile vor. Auch hat er nicht eine unausgesprochene […] Verstandeserkenntnis in sein Werk gelegt.’ For a critique of Livy as a particularly flawed example of a historiographical tradition that does not stand up to modern standards, see also Walsh (1961) 110: ‘The most serious objection to any consideration of Livy as a scientific historian is in part an indictment of Roman historiography generally. It is the failure to search out and evaluate the original documentary evidence.’

3 On the title, see the brief analysis in Horsfall (1981) 105-6.

4 Nissen (1863). On Livy’s use of his sources, see still Klotz (1927) in RE XIII, 841-6 (= Klotz (1967) 217-23); Wiehemeyer (1967) 224-36 on books 21-45; for a list of Livy’s programmatic statements about his use of his sources, see Hellmann (1967) 237-48; Luce (1977) 139-84. For recent source-critical publications, see e.g. Northwood (2000) on Livy’s use of the early annalists; Oakley (2010) 118-38, comparing Livy’s and Dionysius of Halicarnassus’ account of the triple combats of the Horatii. See also Erdkamp (2006) 525-63, who reads Livy’s deviant terminology in battle scenes as a symptom of his use of different sources, with special focus on Polybius and Valerius Antias; for Livy’s complex use of Polybius in the third decade, combining source criticism and more subtle forms of intertextuality, see most recently Levene (2010a) 126-63.

5 In his account of the siege of Ambracia (38.7.10) in 189 BCE, Livy appears to confuse the Greek thureoi in Polybius’ version of the story (21.28.11) with thurai, translating ‘doors’ instead of ‘shields’ – a mistake that results in a rather amusing story in which the Romans and Aetolians fight ‘with doors put in the way’, foribus raptim obiectis; see Adams (2003) 4, also giving further examples and bibliography; see also Beard (2013) 76.

6 On Livy’s relation with and position to Augustus, see e.g. Deininger’s (1985) 265-72 overview article, emphasizing that every possible stance has found its advocates in classical scholarship. As exemplary representatives of the two poles, we can – still – single out Wilhelm Hoffmann and Ronald Syme. While Hoffmann (1954) 186 wants to recognize in Livy’s historical work an explicit distance towards the Principate and ‘Schmerz und Entsagung, der Abschied von einer Welt, die unwiederbringlich dahin war’, Syme (1959) 75 argued that Livy fully acknowledged the necessity of autocratic rule and stated that ‘Livy’s annals of Augustus were written in joyful acceptance of the new order’. See also Luce (1990) 123-38 on Livy’s history against the backdrop of the Augustan iconographic program, esp. at the Forum Augustum; further Badian (1993) 9-38.

7 See e.g. Lushkov’s (2013) article on citation and the dynamics of tradition in which she develops a model to describe the range of different mechanics of historiographical citation, distinguishing the following forms of citation in particular: ‘impersonal’, ‘anonymous’, ‘simple’, ‘variant’, and ‘intertextual citations’, see esp. 44. On the role of intertextuality in Livy, see e.g. Jaeger (2006), the extensive analysis in Levene’s monograph on Livy’s Hannibalic War (2010a) 83-162 and the edited volume by Polleichtner (2010).

8 Witte (1910). Miles (1995) 2 calls this strand also the ‘rhetorical-thematic school of interpretation’. See again also the introduction by Chaplin and Kraus (2009).

9 In the context of ‘episodic narrative structures’ see also Williams (1978), who argued that imperial literature developed towards a more ‘episodic composition’ of its material and tended to emphasize the parts over the whole (e.g. on Tacitus, 252). His argument is in line with the topos of literary decline after the ‘classical period’, stating that the farther away literature moved from Vergil and the Augustans, the more the classical form broke down in favour of a growing interest in detail and ‘baroque’ elaboration of individual episodes. Livy can, in many ways, be viewed as an imperial rather than a Republican author following William’s concept.

10 See e.g. Walsh (1961) 274-5 and, summarizing this discussion in scholarship, 287.

11 For a similar thought, see Chaplin-Kraus (2009) 3. See as well Pausch (2011) 3-8.

12 See Wiseman (1979); Woodman (1988).

13 See Chaplin-Kraus (2009) 4.

14 See e.g. Feldherr (1998) ix: ‘The information he gives us is so valuable, and so tantalizing, that it has tended to overshadow not only Livy’s reputation as a historian, but also the very narrative through which it reaches us.’

15 Probably the best example for a combination of all these aspects is Oakley, Comm. For an analysis of Livy as a potential source for archaeological reconstruction, see further e.g. Cornell (2015) 245-58 on the narrative of the regal period.

16 Pausch (2011).

17 Levene (2010a).

18 See e.g. Levene’s edited volume Clio and the Poets (2002).

19 Feldherr (1998).

20 Chaplin (2000); esp. Jaeger (1997), (1999) 169-95, but also (2006) 389-414.

21 Roller (2009b). This approach is likely to prove fruitful, since Livy has usually been read as an utterly apolitical author with the exception of ongoing interest in his stance vis-à-vis Augustus. Steven Cosnett, a PhD candidate at King’s College London, has recently finished a dissertation on political culture in Livy in order to fill this gap also addressed in Roller’s article, under the working title Livy’s Depiction of Politics in the Roman Republic.

22 For the latter, see esp. Arieti (1997) 209-29 who enquires into the connections between Livy’s representation of rape and his view on Roman history, arguing that Livy applies the principles of Empedocles to incidents of rape and thus links violence and creation in order to explain the greatness of Rome. See also Joshel (1992) 112-30 on the contrast between female inertness and male action, and Vogel’s (2010) study on the rape of the Sabine Women in Livy and Ovid. Further gender-related studies include Vandiver (1999) 206-32 on Lucretia and the Sabine Women, Mastrorosa (2006) 590-611 on ‘gendered debates’ in Livy, Stevenson (2011) 175-89 on women as exempla in Livy’s early Rome, and Mustakallio (2012) 165-74 on the female voice.

23 Please note that a thorough comparison of Livy and Velleius will also be given in Chapter 5. There a close reading of Livy’s and Velleius’ depiction of Pydna will be used for a comprehensive comparison of the two authors.

24 One possible point of direct comparison to Velleius would also have been Livy’s configuration of fortune, the fata, the gods and religion. Since this book wants to tackle the role of narrative form in the configuration of and coping with uncertainty, I have decided, however, to focus on one exemplary narrative and its composition in detail instead of building the argument on a number of scattered references in order to fully grasp the implications and significance of narrative form for the engagement with and configuration of uncertainty. On the role of religion, fortuna and fatum in Livy, see esp. Kajanto (1957); Walsh (1961) 46-81; Stübler (1967) 467-9; Levene (1993), and Davies (2004) comparing Livy to Tacitus and Ammianus.

25 Oakley, Comm. ad loc.; see also Chaplin (2000) 32.

26 On Caudium from a mostly historical and archaeological perspective, see Horsfall (1982) 45-52 who focusses on the differences between the actual geography of the place and Livy’s account of the famous encounter; see also still Salmon (1956) 98- 108.

27 Cf. 9.1.1-11. On this passage, see also Pausch (2011) 180; Oakley, Comm. 39-48.

28 Cf. 9.2.3: ubi inciderint in praedatores, ut idem omnibus sermo constet legiones Samnitium in Apulia esse, Luceriam omnibus copiis circumsedere, nec procul abesse quin ui capiant.

29 For Livy’s description of the place, cf. 9.2.6.

30 Cf. 9.5.11-6.4; esp. 9.6.3: per hostium oculos. Oakley, Comm. 6-7 notes that of Livy’s annalistic sources for the Caudium narrative, we have only evidence for the treatment of the story by Claudius Quadrigarius and concludes that Livy cites Quadrigarius, but ‘cannot have followed him closely’ when we take into account some major divergences, especially concerning the assessment of the foedus-sponsiodebate; see also below in this chapter, 146-7. Other writers dependent on the Roman annalistic tradition, where we have evidence of the Caudium narrative, include Dionysius of Halicarnassus (cf. Oakley, Comm. 7-8) who may well have been the major source of Appian and, in part, of Cassius Dio. Oakley concludes that ‘the numerous details which these share with L. suggest that the basic outline of the story which L. offers differed not much from some other late annalistic versions’ (8). However, when we do not focus on a quantitative assessment of details that may or may not overlap, but on narrative composition – and on the narrative enactment of uncertainty in particular – we can indeed identify some major divergences with far reaching interpretational consequences; see also below, esp. for a comparison with Appian.

31 Cf. 9.2.1-4.

32 The use of the verb ferre emphasizes the Romano-centric focalization as it implies a direction – to take something from one’s position to somebody else’s, in this instance, from the Romans’ position near Calatia to the city of Luceria.

33 See also Morello (2003) 296-306 for the tradition behind this metaphor in Livy. On the metaphor of the crossroads, see e.g. Hager (2013) 17 in her study on ‘kognitive Metaphernkonzepte’ and the significance of metaphors in knowledge transfer. On spatial metaphors in Livy, see also Kraus (1994b) 268-9 and Jaeger (1997), esp. 15- 29.

34 Oakley, Comm. ad loc. draws attention to the second person formulation (venias) in this passage, claiming that the direct address of the reader enhances his or her involvement in the events depicted in the episode. Research in the field of cognitive science has recently developed a growing interest in questions of this kind, and they have repeatedly suggested that reading involves the mental simulation of events and actions described in a text. The field is vast and has produced a number of increasingly nuanced studies and findings on the issue. Without going into too much detail, it can be noted here, however, that Oakley’s claim can possibly be complemented by studies in the wake of this research interest. A recent empirical study by Ditman et al. (2010) 172-8 has found that ‘you’-perspectives in narratives combined with the description of actions and movement result in a better memory retention and, accordingly, a ‘stronger engagement with the text’ in readers; see also Sanford-Emmott (2012) 177.

35 Morello (2003) 301-5.

36 Morello (2003) 291-6. For the locus amoenus as a literary topos, see still Curtius (1948) 191-209 on the ‘Ideallandschaft’. For the development of the literary topos, see Schönbeck (1962), esp. 15-60 where he offers an extensive list of typical elements that are used to describe loci amoeni in Greek and Roman literature (from Homer to Horace); see furthermore Haß (1998) who wants to read exemplary passages in Hesiod and Homer as a benchmark against which later descriptions of ideal landscapes were conceptualized by means of aemulatio (called ‘Nachfolgerketten’ by Haß); however, Haß’s study falls short in contextualizing her readings of individual locus amoenus-depictions in their respective narrative contexts, and thus amounts at times to nothing more than paraphrases of the passages under consideration (for a, somewhat harsh, critique, see also Kledt (2000) 1001-11). See furthermore Barrière (2013) 275-85, who examines the negation and subversion of the idea of the locus amoenus and idyllic landscape and Lucan’s Bellum Civile.

37 This is of course not to reproduce or even imply the idea of a ‘secondary’ text being dependent on a ‘primary’ or ‘master’ text. For the thorough deconstruction of topoi of ‘literary evolution’ or ‘literary decline’, see e.g. Conte (1986) and esp. Hinds (1998), both however exclusively focussing on poetry.

38 On a similar thought, see Pausch’s (2011) 195 concept of ‘anomalous suspense’; see also above, 16 n. 48. Similarly, see Kraus and Woodman (1997) 61 on an analogous thought regarding the Hannibalic War: ‘While on one level such historical knowledge threatens the interest of the narrative – why read it if you know how it comes out? – Livy maintains the tension appropriate to such a story through his narrative immediacy, which as we read enables us to suspend, at least partially, the knowledge that Rome won this (and indeed every other) war.’

39 The question of narrative tension and of what exactly makes us read and finish a narrative has been subject to a number of publications in recent years, to which Baroni’s (2007) study belongs, which develops further fundamental categories of classical narratology by including a systematic assessment of the reader’s engagement (see also Jean-Marie Schaeffer’s avant-propos to Baroni, 14). Baroni distinguishes five forms of ‘suspense’ (‘fonctions thymiques’) which keep the reader going, i.e. ‘curiosité’, ‘suspense’, ‘rappel’, ‘suspense “paradoxal”’, and ‘surprise’. On different forms of a reader’s participation in a narrative text, see recently also Hiergeist (2014), who distinguishes ‘emotionale Beteiligungsmöglichkeiten’, ‘kognitive’, ‘evaluative’ and ‘ästhetische Beteiligungsmöglichkeiten’.

40 See Stanzel’s comprehensive work Welt als Text (2010). Stanzel’s discussion of linguistic, narratological and ‘classical’ concepts of the historical present forms only a small part of the larger project of his Grundbegriffe der Interpretation, in which he advances results of narrative theorists such as Käte Hamburger, Gérard Genette, and Dorrit Cohn.

41 Note however, that Kühner as early as (1843) 1142 emphasized that ‘es ist keineswegs immer Lebhaftigkeit der Darstellung, wenn das Praesens historicum gebraucht wird. Um das einzusehen, braucht man nur die Anabasis von Xenophon zu lesen.’

42 See e.g. Allan (2011) 41 on Thucydides, arguing that the historical present creates ‘epistemic immediacy’ and is in Thucydides accordingly used to ‘highlight those events which are somehow remarkable, unexpected or crucial to the course of events’. See also the edited volume as a whole, Lallot (2011) on The Historical Present in Thucydides. See Grethlein (2014b) for an overview on Time, tense and temporality in Greek historiography in the Oxford Handbook.

43 See Stanzel (2011) 135, esp. n. 75, building on Hamburger’s Logik der Dichtung (19773).

44 This overconfidence is also a reason for the Romans’ wrong expectations and backs up the argument made so far: the Romans’ experiences from past encounters and power relations with the Samnites had lulled them in a sense of security and made them believe that they had nothing to fear from the enemy. The recognition scene must be viewed as the narrative depiction of an experience that thwarts exactly this expectation (which in turn was built upon a previous experience). The scene is a text-book example of the omnipresent interaction and dynamics between expectation and experience as identified as ‘human temporality’ by Koselleck; for detailed discussion, see 29-33 in this book.

45 On this point, see also Morello (2003) 306.

46 This observation also throws into relief the crucial importance of the path-image as a metaphor, giving a spatial dimension to the act of decision making. Against Grethlein (2013) 24 (‘the role of space as examined by Jaeger helps to cement a teleological design’) I would not necessarily say that spatial metaphors must result in a teleological twist. The path metaphors in Caudium are certainly also alerting us to the role of space, but would in Grethlein’s terms rather point towards the experiential end. Apart from terminology, the path metaphor certainly does demonstrate the importance of decision and the fact that the course of history is dependent on decisions – that could always also be taken differently – and thus alerts us to the influence of uncertainty.

47 Grethlein (2013) 45, on Thucydides.

48 A possible way to elaborate further on these thoughts is a comparison with the Samnites’ actions at the same time in the story. Just like the Romans, they ponder their possibilities and are thus shown as acting upon an open, still undecided future. By juxtaposing both sides of the imminent armed conflict in this manner, Livy’s narrative weaves a powerful panorama that pushes even further its ‘Wirkungspotential’ as a narrative mirror of a conception of history riddled by fundamental uncertainty.

49 This emphasis on visuality, lifelikeness and the power of making something appear in front of your mind’s eye is a characteristic of the ancient concept of enargeia, on which see esp. above 10 n. 31 for a summary and bibliography. Let me here just single out one observation immediately relevant to the passage. When qualifying historiography, Lucian stresses the importance of illuminating the events as visually as possible (Hist. Conscr. 51: enargestata). In his view, it is the aim of good historical writing to describe an event so as to make it visually appear in front of the reader’s eye. Now, it is arguable whether or not Livy’s account here makes the reader actually see the Romans’ pain and pondering. What is clear, though, is that Livy’s Romans themselves appear to adhere to the rules of historiography according to Lucian: they may not be writing history and they do not configure the past, but following the same rules endorsed for historiography, they depict their future in a way that it comes to life before their very eyes. In modern terms, we might say that the Romans use ‘scenario- making’ in order to come to grips with a potential traumatic experience. Expectations are built up in order to be able to deal with the experiences to come, in order to eliminate or at least limit uncertainty.

50 This is also a splendid example of the connection between conceptions of embodiment on the one hand and time and the temporal dimension of experience and narrative on the other. Approaches to literature building on the paradigm of embodiment belong to a broader trend in literary studies which focusses on immediate effects literature may have on the reader and on immediate reactions to texts instead of limiting the focus to the more reflection-heavy, hermeneutic approach. Both approaches are often put at loggerheads, but a passage like this, which reveals the close entwinement of embodied experience and the temporal dimension of experience, shows that also from a conceptual perspective, both dimensions of experience and, by extension, aesthetic (reading-) experience can hardly be thought without one another. On matters of embodiment, see also p. 150 below in this chapter.

51 See Jaeger (1997) 181.

52 On the vocabulary of enclosure in the locus amoenus scene see also Morello (2003) 293 who emphasizes the ‘separation from the real world’ the Romans experience in the forks.

53 See esp. Chaplin (2000). On the exemplary function of the Ab urbe condita as a whole as visible from Livy’s preface, see also Moles (1993); and for the interlocking of past and present as expressed in the prooemium, see also Sailor (2006) 360-1.

54 The use of paene is already a hint at the rhetorical composition as the medium through which the past is presented to us, since the idea of ‘almost-experiencing’ something can only be drafted in retrospect, but not experienced in the present. See also below on Livy’s use of nondum, producing a similar effect.

55 Note however that while Velleius leans towards closure and Livy towards openness, the respective opposite is present in both narratives as well. On this point, see the analogous paragraph in the Velleius chapter (98-108), see below here (160-9), and the synopsis in Chapter 5.

56 See Gadamer (19652) 338 who argues that any experience deserving of the name is actually the disappointment of an expectation. See also above in this book, esp. 29- 33 and 41-3. Obviously, this dynamic is particularly evident in the case of painful experiences such as the Romans’ in Caudium, but it is also valid for positive or even pleasurable ones where the experience also disrupts a ‘normal’ flux of what is deemed ‘usual’. See also Grethlein (2013) 13.

57 See also Oakley, Comm. ad loc., who puts Herennius in the Greek and Roman literary tradition of these messenger figures.

58 See Morson (1994) who focusses on novels by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky to demonstrate the significance of the technique in rendering the general openness of the course of action visible. For uses of the concept in analyzing Greek historiography, see Grethlein (2010a) 242-52 on Thucydides.

59 Morson (1994) 6. See also Grethlein (2013) 14.

60 Similarly, Fludernik (2002) excludes (modern) historiography from her ‘natural narratology’.

61 The most popular form of side-shadowing is certainly counterfactual history, although side-shadowing as developed by Morson (1994) is not limited to that. In contemporary historiography questions of counterfactual history or the famous ‘what would have been, if… ’ are often discarded as ‘unwissenschaftlich’ or fiction. However, some studies have been published among which ancient topics loom large – arguably because of ancient historians’ preference for questions along these lines. Recent publications on counterfactual questions include Brodersen’s edited volume on Wendepunkte in der Antiken Geschichte (2000), Demandt (2010) with the provocative title Es hätte auch anders kommen können, in which he examines turning points in German history; see also Demandt (1984) on Ungeschehene Geschichte, and the edited volume on Virtual History by Ferguson (1997). For a study concerned with recent history, see e.g. Blight et. al. (2010) on Vietnam if Kennedy had lived. For a meta-study on the question why counterfactual scenarios continue to fascinate us, see e.g. Evans (2013).

62 One of the most famous examples of side-shadowing in the form of an elaborate counterfactual episode is Livy’s Alexander digression which follows right after the Caudium narrative in 9.17-19; see below (165-7) for bibliography and a brief analysis against the backdrop of ‘narrative and uncertainty’ in the Caudine forks.

63 For Herennius’ speech in Appian, which is presented as a rather formal speech between him and his son, cf. App. Sam. 4.3. See also Oakley, Comm. 8, who concludes that Appian’s narrative order and presentation of the scene are crafted ‘in a manner very different from Livy’s powerful scene’.

64 See Walsh (1990) 97, on Liv. 36.18.8: ‘This chapter affords an excellent example of Livy’s technique of dramatic presentation in battle-accounts. In App. Syr. 18f. […], the success of Cato in dislodging the Aetolians is introduced before the main battle. Livy reserves the information until the close of the chapter, when Cato appears as a deus ex machina to change the course of the battle.’ With Pausch (2011) 202.

65 See also Oakley, Comm. 69-70 who notes that Livy’s account seems indeed to be unmatched and stands out as a dramatic composition.

66 For ‘virtual history’ in Livy as a means to involve the reader in the story, see Pausch (2011) 246-50. On the different uses of the term ‘virtual’, see Ryan (2001) 13. The term is here used in what Ryan calls the ‘scholastic’ sense, i.e. virtuality as potentiality. For a brief ‘Begriffsgeschichte’, see 26-7. In scholastic philosophy (27), she says, ‘the virtual is not that which is deprived of existence but that which possesses the potential or force of developing into actual existence.’ Later usage turns this dialectical relation into a binary opposition; ‘virtual’ becomes an equivalent to the ‘fictive’, the ‘non-existent’. ‘The meaning of virtual stretches along an axis delimited by two poles. At one end is the optical sense, which carries the connotations of illusion; at the other is the scholastic sense which suggests productivity, openness, and diversity.’

67 See Oakley, Comm. 68, offering further examples and bibliography.

68 On enemy speeches in Roman historiography, see now also Adler (2011).

69 The contributions to Lianeri’s edited volume on Knowing Future Time In and Through Greek Historiography (2016) use the concept of polyphony to examine configurations of (future) time in narrative. See esp. Pausch (2016) 311-28 on Livy. By focussing on the hermeneutic dimension of polyphonic narratives, I wish to add to these readings by demonstrating that matters of time and temporality can be grasped more fully when we take into consideration their inextricable relation to matters of hermeneutics.

70 On concepts of polyphony in the study of Greek historiography, see also Lianeri (2016) 13-9 who rightly traces back the concept of polyphony to Bakhtin’s (1981) idea of ‘orchestration’ and ‘dialogic imagination’. The typology proposed in this book certainly borrows from scholarship following in the footsteps of Bakhtin’s seminal study, but is tailored specifically to matters of ‘narrative and uncertainty’.

71 On ancient discourses on the role of speeches in historiography, see e.g. Pitcher (2009) 103-11, Pausch (2011) 157-70.

72 It has often been emphasized that it is indeed difficult to overestimate the importance of speech in Greco-Roman antiquity, since the spoken word dominated many aspects of the ‘Lebenswelt’ of ancient societies, including, but not limited to politics, military, funeral, and in general commemorative culture and memoria. See e.g. Marincola (2011b) 118, stressing that already in Homer ‘the heroes are “speakers of words and doers of deeds” (Il. 9.443)’. For an overview article on modern approaches to and interest in the role of speeches in ancient historical writing, see esp. Marincola (2011b) 118-33. See also Pausch’s edited volume Stimmen der Geschichte (2010), which offers a cross-sectional range of approaches to speeches in Greco-Roman historiography. Most contributions focus on individual authors; for thematic, overarching treatments see esp. Leidl (2010) 235-58 on ‘Hörerreaktionen’, and Marincola (2010) 259-89 on allusion, intertextuality and exemplarity. On polyphony particularly in Livy, see recently Pausch (2011) 125-89. In a way different from my focus here, it is Pausch’s main interest to relativize the traditional criticism of Livy’s blunt patriotism and to show that ‘der Erzähler in Ab urbe condita im Ganzen zwar eine primär prorömische Perspektive einnimmt, diese an zahlreichen Stellen aber durch Elemente einer multiperspektivischen Darstellung ergänzt’ (125).

73 On characterization in ancient historiography, see e.g. Pitcher (2011) 102-17, building his argument on Plutarch’s famous statement of generic distinction between history and biography (Plut. Alex. 1), and stressing that the modern notions of ‘character’ and ‘characterization’ differ profoundly from ancient understanding.

74 See Oakley, Comm. ad loc.

75 See Grethlein (2014b) [online resource].

76 See Forsythe (1999) 78.

77 See also Oakley, Comm. 17: ‘A consequence of L.’s including so many speeches is that he grants a hearing to a multiplicity of arguments from both Romans and Samnites. Some of these receive clear endorsement from his narrative voice, but about the merits of others his readers are given less help in making up their minds. Hence moral issues are presented with subtlety, and L.’s account of the aftermath of the Caudine Forks differs from much of his writing in that it is not unambiguously pro-Roman.’

78 On Quadrigarius’ take on the matter, see Oakley, Comm. 17.

79 As part of Roman international law, a sponsio was a treaty characterized by stipulatio, i.e. a verbal promise. Starting in the high Republic, a sponsio also meant ‘a treaty entered into by a Roman commander by virtue of his word, without the authorization of the Senate’. See Kehne (BNP: 2016). The debate of the question whether the obligation entered into by means of a sponsio bound the entire people or just the sponsor himself is especially known from the Caudium narrative in Livy and Polybius, but also attested elsewhere. For a comprehensive discussion, see Ziegler (1972) 68-114 on international law in the Roman Republic, esp. 90-4 on foedus and sponsio, and Ziegler (1989) 45-62 on peace treaties in ancient Rome. Due to constitutional changes over time and due to the uneven body of source material, exact definitions and demarcations of forms of Roman treaties are difficult at times.

80 The foedus was a ceremonial treaty of peace and friendship between Rome and another state, usually placed under the protection of the gods and drawn up for the long term. A foedus was usually signed by a magistrate or pro-magistrate in the field and had to be confirmed by the public assembly in Rome. The result of a foedus was societas or amicitia between the parties involved. See Galsterer (BNP: 2016).

81 See e.g. Ullmann (1927) for a rhetorical analysis; also Oakley, Comm. ad loc.

82 Cf. 9.8.11: Quae ubi dixit, tanta simul admiratio miseratioque uiri incessit homines ut modo uix crederent illum eundum esse Sp. Postumium qui auctor tam foedae pacis fuisset.

83 These are comparable to the so called ‘if-not-situations’ or ‘Beinahe-Episoden’ which loom large in ancient epic and historiography. For ‘Beinahe-Episoden’ in Greek and Roman epic, see Nesselrath (1992); see also de Jong (1987) xvii. For ‘Beinahe-Episoden’ in Thucydides, see e.g. Rood (1998) 173. On the Iliad, see e.g. Grethlein (2006a) 280: ‘Die Macht der Tradition, die sich in der Autorreflexion manifestiert, zeigt auch, welche Bedeutung ‘Beinahe-Episoden’ haben: Dadurch, daß den Rezipienten der Verlauf der Handlung bekannt ist, entsteht leicht der Eindruck, die Handlung sei vorherbestimmt. Indem ‘Beinahe-Episoden’ einen alternativen Handlungsverlauf vorstellen, aber zur Tradition zurückkehren, machen sie möglich, daß die Tradition gewahrt bleibt, aber trotzdem die Offenheit der Zukunft auf der Ebene der Handlung deutlich wird. Durch sie wird in eine Tradition, die Überraschungen weitgehend ausschließt, Kontingenz eingeführt.’ On these episodes in Livy, see also briefly Pausch (2011) 200-2.

84 Cf. 9.10.4: emersisse ciuitatem ex obnoxia pace illius consilio et opera.

85 M. Furius Camillus is among the most heavily studied figures in Livy’s narrative. On Livy’s presentation of Camillus, see Momigliano (1942), who focusses on Camillus significance in the struggle for concord, and Burck (1967a) 310-28 for a comprehensive discussion. On Camillus’ status as a ‘second Romulus’ and his exemplary function in Livy’s narrative, see Stevenson (2000) 27-46, von Ungern-Sternberg (2001) 289-97, Späth (2001) 341-412. Gowing (2009) 332-47 pursues Camillus’ role as exemplary figure from Livy to Imperial Greek historiography, focussing on Dionysius of Halicarnassus.

86 The focus on ‘the embodiment of mental processes and their extension into the world through material artefacts and cultural practices’ is a characteristic of the so called ‘second generation’ of cognitive studies on literature; see Kukkonen and Caracciolo (2014), esp. 261. In literary studies this branch is currently put to use in exploring readers’ immediate embodied engagements with literature. The idea of the reader being involved in an embodied interaction with a literary text in the act of reading goes back to the discovery of the so-called mirror neurons that are regularly referred to in a variety of academic fields. Scientists have shown in empirical studies and brain scans that these mirror neurons fire in imitation when we perceive an action. This insight has been used in literary studies and linguistics where claims haven been made for their role ‘in mirroring actions we hear or read about in linguistic communication’, see Kukkonen and Caracciolo (2014) 264.

87 See Chaplin (2000), for Caudium as an exemplum esp. 41-9. On the memoria Caudina as a theme of book 9, see also Oakley, Comm. 21-3, as well as Kraus (1998) 267-8.

88 Chaplin (2000) 47, n. 36 refers to Perlman (1961) 150-66 as making an analogous point when showing how the Attic orators manipulated historical examples.

89 For a complete list and brief contextualization of all these instances, see Chaplin (2000) 41-9; for the Ciminian forest, see esp. 41-2.

90 Cf. 9.36.9-10. After a period of general hesitation, the consul’s brother volunteers and makes his way through the forest. He sends word back to his brother and his army on the other side of the woods, and the consul is indeed shown now to have learned from the recollection of Caudium: Haec cum relata consuli essent, impedimentis prima uigilia praemissis, legionibus post impedimenta ire iussis ipse substitit cum equitatu et luce orta postero die obequitauit stationibus hostium, quae extra saltum dispositae erant; […]. – On their success being made known to the consul, he sent the baggage ahead, in the first watch, and directed the legions to follow the baggage. He himself stopped behind with the cavalry and at dawn of the following day made a demonstration against the enemy’s outposts, which had been stationed at the entrance of the pass.

91 Chaplin (2000) 42.

92 For the ‘atmosphere of gloom’ put forward in Livy’s narrative of the crossing of the Ciminus, see also Oakley, Comm. 485.

93 Note also that this is an intriguing contrast to an earlier reference to Caudium, cf. 9.19.9, within the Alexander digression where the reference is inserted into a counterfactual thought-experiment that draws not so much on a narrative of events and depiction of contexts and backgrounds, but on a theoretical, argumentative discourse.

94 This definition is based on Genette’s (1983) 49 theory of focalization as ‘une sélection d’information narrative par rapport à ce que la tradition nommait l’omniscience’. Contrary to Mieke Bal, Genette distinguishes voice and gaze – ‘qui dit’ and ‘qui voit’, a distinction helpful to tackle the narrative dynamics resulting from the tension between information available for the characters on an intradiegetic level and information available to the reader, be it through explicit hints, through intertextual traces, topoi and literary tradition, genre rules or other narrative strategies.

95 This interpretation can be bolstered by Chaplin’s findings on the overall use of exempla in Livy. Analyzing the whole of Livy’s extant work, Chaplin (2000) 49 finds that ‘exempla come and go because they take their meanings from the context in which they appear’ and that ‘exempla rarely appear outside the historical period in which the event takes place’. Exempla in Livy have a date of expiry and are thus conceptualized as being subject to uncertainty, temporal and hermeneutic, too. Thus, their seemingly a-temporal or trans-temporal ability to bridge the gaps is in fact revealed as being highly fragile and instable.

96 See Chaplin (2000) 41-2.

97 See also Jauß`s (1982) 85 characterization of the aesthetic experience as oscillating between ‘disinterested contemplation’ and ‘testing participation’.

98 Miles (1995) comes to a similar conclusion from a different perspective. Noticing the weight Livy attributes to re-evaluating and revising previous accounts of the past, Miles (1995) 224 argues that Livy’s configuration or Romulus and the ‘second founders’ of Rome helps him to locate ‘himself and his narrative within the tradition of elaboration and revision from which Roman memory and identity emerge’.

99 See again Chaplin (2000) 41-9, esp. 47 for the summary on which I build here.

100 See also Levene (2006) 73-108.

101 On the peculiar phrase tibi tuaeque rei publicae, see e.g. Oppermann (1967) 176, Koster (1996) 253-63 and Ogilvie, Comm. ad loc.

102 This programmatic passage has been the fundament of a number of studies combing through the Ab urbe condita based on one of the different aspects brought up here. Feldherr (1998) built on the phrase documenta posita monumenta intueri in order to analyze Livy’s programmatic take on visuality, performance and representation; Chaplin (2000) focussed on the exemplum-narrative; Jaeger (1997) took up the monumentum-narrative for her study on space and memory in Livy’s Ab urbe condita; see also Jaeger (1999).

103 For a synopsis of ancient concepts of the utility and usefulness of history, see e.g. Fornara (1983) 104-20.

104 This reading is in line with Pausch (2011), who argues that Livy’s narrative techniques are designed to involve the reader in the narrative and make him contribute to interpreting Roman history.

105 On Livy’s preface see still mostly Amundsen (1947) 31-5, Walsh (1955) and especially the thorough close reading by Moles (1993) 141-68.

106 Cf. praef. 2: (…) quippe qui cum ueterem tum uolgatam esse rem uideam, dum noui semper scriptores aut in rebus certius aliquid allaturos se aut scribendi arte rudem uetustatem superaturos credunt. Moles (1993) 141 reads this sentence as a paradox typical of Livy’s style: while the reference to the novi semper scriptores can be read as part of a larger captatio benevolentiae and of modesty, Livy attracts attention to himself as historian and narrator right away, confidently and repeatedly using the first person from the first sentence onwards.

107 Cf. praef. 3: (…) et si in tanta scriptorum turba mea fama in obscuro sit, nobilitate ac magnitudine eorum me qui nomini officient meo consoler. See also Moles (1993) 144-5, drawing attention to a possible allusion of the passage to Sallust’s Histories (Hist. 1, fr. 3M: nos in tanta doctissumorum hominum copia).

108 With Moles (1993) 145 who highlights the contrast between Livy’s claim – in which he finds a hint at his ‘wry humour’ – and historiographical tradition: ‘instead of achieving immortality through his immortal work’ Livy draws attention to the fact that he ‘runs the risk of achieving complete annihilation through failure’.

109 Miles (1995) 6.

110 The disaster of Cannae is later in Livy’s narrative anticipated in a similar way, cf. 22.42.10. Strikingly, there is also an obvious intertextual link between the two passages, since Livy characterizes the events in Cannae using similar phrasings, i.e. ad nobilitandas clade Romana Cannas (22.43.9).

111 See also Oakley, Comm. ad loc.

112 Oakley, Comm. ad loc. points out how Livy’s syntax and word order here clearly subordinates the hapless consuls to the events in the Caudine forks.

113 Morello (2003) 306.

114 Cf. 9.15.8 and 9.15.19.

115 This corresponds to the second type of closure in Fowler’s typology. See Fowler (2000c) 284 building on his previous thoughts on the matter in (1989) 78-9.

116 Digressions are of major importance in ancient historiography and take a variety of forms depending on their scope, theme, aim, their frequency and position in the narrative as a whole. See Walter (2013) in the Encyclopaedia of Ancient History. Digressions may be used to accommodate matters of interest that could not be fitted into the chronological order of the narrative, as is the case e.g. for the literary digressions in Velleius Paterculus, see above, 75-7. Digressions are also used to give more space to descriptions of customs or institutions, to elaborate on theoretical and conceptual questions arising from the narrative, or as structuring devices that allow the historian to divide the text in distinct sections, as Oakley, Comm. 184-5 argues. For digressions in Herodotus, arguing that the parenthekai are not so much departures from the main narrative as integral parts of the author’s forming of historical meaning, see e.g. Cobet (1971); on digressions in Thucydides, see e.g. Pothou (2009); see also Wiedemann (1993) who focusses on the digressions in Sallust’s Jugurtha. For explanations ancient historians offer for their indulging in digressions, see Oakley, Comm. 185.

117 For extended treatments of the Alexander digression, see among others Walbank (1981) 344-56; Forsythe (1999) 114-8; Spencer (2002), who argues in her second chapter that the depiction of Alexander is deeply rooted in the dynamics of Augustan Rome and suggests to read Augustus as a sort of intertext subtitling the digression; Morello (2002) 62-85, who also reads the digression as a comment on and deconstruction of the praise of one-man rule; Oakley, Comm. 184-261, and 184 with a full bibliography. See now also Clark (2014) esp. 30-7 and passim.

118 Livy explains that writing about Papirius Cursor, the consul who won the victory at Caudium (see esp. 9.15.8), had brought him to think about what could have been an actual danger for a man as virtuous and talented a statesman and commander. He mentions that Cursor was usually regarded as a match even for Alexander the Great, cf. 9.16.19. For Livy’s recusatio, justifying his digression, cf. 9.17.1, for the explanation, cf. 9.17.2.

119 Alexander’s brief but brilliant career was indeed often used as a theme of declamation by students of rhetoric. See Oakley, Comm. 188, also giving a brief analysis of the rhetorical form of the digression (188-9).

120 For an overview, see Oakley, Comm. 192-9.

121 Livy himself offers three reasons for his including the thought experiment: the fact that people regard Papirius Cursor, the victorious commander at Caudium Livy had just paid tribute to, a match for even Alexander the Great, so the general idea of the excursus was already out there (9.16.19); the fact that he had already thought about this question quite frequently (9.17.2); and to go up against the levissimi Graeci who argued that the Romans were not able to defeat the Parthians (9.18.6).

122 Indeed, the fact that Livy chose to insert the counterfactual digression after the events of 319 BCE while Alexander died in 323, is remarkable. Luce (1965) 219-20, building especially on Treves (1953), has summarized the popular hypothesis that Livy’s digression may have been a direct reply to a (now lost) work published by one of the levissimi ex Graecis mentioned by Livy, possibly Timagenes of Alexandria, who allegedly argued that Rome would have been defeated by Alexander. This hypothesis, however, is exclusively built on Livy’s mentioning of these ‘silliest Greek authors’ (9.18.6) and limited to questions of external motivation instead of taking into account the narrative context of the scene. See also Oakley, Comm. 193. On the other hand, Anderson (1908) 89-103, who is responsible for a second influential argument, has claimed conversely that the digression was in fact nothing but a rhetorical exercise that Livy had composed much earlier and included in the Ab urbe condita without many changes – an argument that tries to take into account stylistic and compositional differences between the digression and the rest of Livy’s history. On Anderson, see also Luce (1965) 220. For possible sources of Livy’s digression, see further Oakley, Comm. 194-5; for a summary of further interpretations, see 195-9.

123 Cf. 9.19.9. This is also acknowledged by Morello (2002) 78. See also Forsythe (1999) 117.

124 For a collection of instances in the Alexander digression that recall more or less obvious aspects mentioned in the narrative of the Caudine forks, see esp. Morello (2002) 72-4.

125 On the contemporary references, see Morello (2002) 80-5, arguing against previous readings and interpretations of the digression as a traditional encomium of the unus homo. Morello (2002) 79 holds against that her observation that the digression tends ‘to dismantle and devalue uniqueness in favour of composite strength. […] A real unus homo is dangerous for his state not only because of the risk of tyrannical domination but also because of the unhealthy dependency of the state […] upon one short-lived mortal’.

126 On this see briefly also Morello (2002) 75: ‘the doubt in the sources seems to militate against Papirius’ pre-eminence in the post-Camillus generation’. Camillus on the other hand is described as unquestioned in his dominance during the Gallic Sack (9.15.9-10), leaving no room for the hermeneutic uncertainty put on display here in the Caudine forks.

127 Oakley, Comm. 167 argues for Quadrigarius (fr. 21) as one of Livy’s sources here since he records that a dictator was in charge at Luceria.

128 See also Miles (1995) 19, who argues that ‘the narrator’s conspicuous and repeated failure to control the rhetoric of factual analysis and source criticism is to divert the reader’s attention from questions of historical facticity to other, more rewarding sources of intelligibility and meaning in the narrative’. See also Jaeger (1997) who, in chapter 5, comes to a similar conclusion in her analysis of the famous trials of the Scipios at the end of Livy’s book 38, which are notoriously known for their logical and source-related discrepancies.

129 Another example can be found in Livy’s account of the battle at the Ticinus River. When the battle begins, fortune turns very quickly in favour of Hannibal’s troops. The dramatic climax of the scene is the moment when Scipio is wounded and almost killed, but can be saved by his son at the last minute (21.46.7-8): Is pauor perculit Romanos, auxitque pauorem consulis uolnus periculumque intercursu tum primum pubescentis filii propulsatum. Hic erit iuuenis penes quem perfecti huiusce belli laus est, Africanus ob egregiam uictoriam de Hannibale Poenisque appellatus. – That alarm startled the Romans, and the consul’s injury made their fear even worse just like the danger he was in, which had been warded off by the interposition of his son, who then was just arriving at the age of puberty. This is also the young man to whom the glory of finishing this war belongs, and he was given the name of Africanus on account of his splendid victory over Hannibal and the Carthaginians.
The scene reminds us of Velleius’ micro-prolepses which are inserted into the narrative very frequently in order to anticipate the outcome of an ambiguous situation. Scipio Minor appears as a
deus ex machina and saves his father, a fact that is mirrored through the narrative composition when Livy anticipates his future victory over Rome’s arch enemy which is, at this point in history, still far in the future. In the light of this classic form of a narrative elimination of uncertainty, the following passage is intriguing (21.46.10): Seruati consulis decus Coelius ad seruum natione Ligurem delegat; malim equidem de filio uerum esse, quod et plures tradidere auctores et fama obtinuit. – Coelius attributes the honour of saving the consul to a slave, by nation a Ligurian. I indeed would like it better that the account about the son was true, which also most authors have transmitted, and the report of which has generally obtained credit.
Analogously to the scenes examined above, just when an element of closure calms down the narrative pace, Livy flags his historical ignorance and the ambiguity of transmission. Accordingly, the prolepsis and the closure it inserts into the narrative is destabilized in the very moment in which it is introduced. This oscillation between elimination and enactment of uncertainty draws our attention even more to the contingency of literary transmission, the relativity of historical truth and the futility of both
fama and historiographical memory. While Velleius’ micro-prolepses close off open ends and competing voices, Livy’s proleptic closure is in itself a means of destabilization. Livy exposes his own narrative closure as a rhetorical artefact, as an interpretation of an uncertain event on the basis of different sources and his own personal beliefs and, in this case, his personal taste as particularly embodied in the verb malim.

130 See also the phrase of ‘futures past’ by Grethlein (2013).

131 On this passage, see briefly also Moles (1993) 148, and esp. 153 referring to its escapist tendencies.

132 Cf. praef. 9. On the remedia, see e.g. Woodman (1988) 133-4. On the dark tones coming to the fore in these passages, see also Oppermann (1967) 180, who sees Livy’s preface under the impression of the ‘Grauen des eben überwundenen Chaos der Bürgerkriege’. Against this and arguing for the complex persona Livy constructs for himself in the preface – a persona that cannot always be taken at face value, see esp. Miles (1995) 52-4. On the remedia see also Moles (1993) 150-2, who in this context also discusses possible dates for the composition of the first pentad.

133 See also Chaplin (2000) 134-6. Moles (1993) 161 has emphasized that, against Livy’s claim here, the recent trend in Roman historiography was rather contemporary history, as Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae. Toher (1990) 139-54 argued on the other hand that contemporary topics became less prominent in historiography after Actium; on Livy, see esp. Toher (1990) 151-3.

134 See Jauß (1982) 85.

135 For this critique, see e.g. Klingner (1967) 51; see also Chaplin-Kraus (2009) 1.

136 On the preface in general, see e.g. Amundsen (1947) 31-5, Walsh (1955), Moles (1993) 141-68.

137 For an assessment of Livy’s chronology as opposed to modern reconstruction of these years of Roman history, see Oakley, Comm. ad loc.

138 The Latin text is quoted from Conway-Walters (19544).

139 A similar strategy can be observed in Liv. 6.12.2-6 where Livy also addresses his readers admitting they may be tired of hearing about the Volscian Wars (see also Oakley, Comm. 343), thus installing a nexus between events and narrative, sujet and fabula.

140 For a similar thought, see also Marincola (1997) 157-8 who points out that Livy in his preface repeatedly refers to both Rome’s historical development and to his work as a historian as great labour, as opus or opera.

141 The term longinquitas that is in this passage used to characterize Livy’s narrative is also used to describe the Samnite Wars (7.29.1), an observation which further underlines the nexus between fabula and sujet in this programmatic draft. This reading also puts into perspective Livy’s take on the traditional contrast between active engagement in affairs on the one hand and reading and writing about them on the other, that is familiar e.g. from Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae (Cat. 3.2) where the dichotomy is mapped onto the conceptual pair of otium and negotium.

142 See Pausch (2011) in general, 73 referring to this passage in particular, where he interprets the ‘Einsatz der historischen Personen in viel elementareren Lebenssituationen als Motivationshilfe für die Fortsetzung der Lektüre’.

143 In the beginning of book 31 we find an analogous argument that can back up this observation (cf. 31.1.1-5). On this passage, see also Pausch (2011) 74 and (2016) 311-2.

144 Cf. praef. 5.

145 Cf. praef. 10.

© C.H.Beck, 2018

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

Acheter

Volume papier

amazon.fr
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search